Fisherman died in pond tragedy

Maurice Willis who died at Lancaster House Farm in Charnock Richard
Maurice Willis who died at Lancaster House Farm in Charnock Richard

A ‘fantastic dad and brilliant grandfather’ drowned in a pond while on a fishing expedition in Chorley.

Emotional tributes have been paid to Maurice Willis, 65, who was found in the water by Chorley councillor Harold Heaton, who owns the land and fishery at Lancaster House Farm, in Charnock Richard.

Mr Willis’s wife of 40 years had raised the alarm, at around 9pm on Saturday, after he failed to return to his Clayton-le-Woods home.

His devastated family have paid tributes, as well as praising the efforts of Coun Heaton, who pulled Mr Willis to the banks of the pond and stayed with him until paramedics arrived.

Coun Heaton, who represents the Chisnall ward on Chorley council, ran the 150 yards from his home to the fishery when Mr Willis’s wife arrived at the farm, off Preston Road, saying she could not contact her husband.

Harold said: “Maurice was a regular fisherman on the fishery, and recently he had been down once or twice a week.

“I knew he was there on Saturday morning, his car was in the car park, and from my house I could see him on the bank. I saw him at lunchtime and then I went to the football.

“When I got there at 7pm his car was still there, it wasn’t unusual.

“His wife came round at about 9pm as she couldn’t contact him. She had been down and couldn’t see him.

“I grabbed my torch and ran down. Panic took over. I just had that feeling.

“As soon as I got the torch on the water I could see him floating.”

Coun Heaton then ran back to the house and called 999, before running down to the banks again and trying to pull Mr Willis from the water.

He said: “I couldn’t reach him because he was so far out. I picked up the clothes prop and went back down and managed to get him to the bank.

“Then I was on my own and couldn’t get him out of the water. It is around three feet deep at the back.

“I went back to the house once the paramedics arrived. I must commend them. They did everything they could.

“It’s a tragedy. I feel devastated, He wasn’t just a local guy, he was a friend.”

Mr Willis was taken to Chorley hospital, but was pronounced dead a short time later.

- For more on this story, see this week’s Chorley Guardian.