Tearful farewell to tragic paraglider

Funeral of Rob Kirkbride, Lytham paraglider
Funeral of Rob Kirkbride, Lytham paraglider

More than 100 family and friends paid their respects to a Fylde man who died in a tragic paragliding accident.

Heartfelt tributes were given at the funeral of Rob Kirkbride, from Lytham, who died after falling 30ft while gliding above Pendle Hill in East Lancashire earlier this month.

In a speech read out by Rev David Phillips at the Fairhaven Methodist Church yesterday, his devastated partner, Angela Feehan, said the 48-year-old BAE Systems worker “meant the world to her.”

She added: “He was my light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.

“He gave me love, life, encouragement and confidence.

“I will miss his humour. I will miss his honesty.

“I have my children and friends but most all I have my memories of you. I love you my Beefy.”

Mr Kirkbride died gliding at Well Springs in Sabden near Clitheroe after the canopy of his glider collapsed around noon on December 4.

Police, paramedics, the Air Ambulance and mountain rescue teams attended but despite their best efforts he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said Mr Kirkbride had been paragliding with a friend.

His sister, Maxine, said her brother “always had the daredevil in him”.

She added: “He was always so proud of his children, Nicole and Ben.

“Today he will be looking down at them.

“He had a certain infectious way about him that endeared him to people.

“Our Robert was a good lad.”

The glider’s coffin was carried into church led by Army veterans from the Royal Mechanical Electrical Engineers, the regiment Mr Kirkbride served with before joining BAE Systems in Warton.

He served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Sierra Leone, as well as being stationed in Germany and Cyprus.

Many friends came to the service wearing colourful wetsuits in tribute to the popular kite surfer, while his coffin was drapped in his gliding canopy as it was taken out of church.

Instead of being transported in a hearse, his coffin was taken to church by a Volkswagen Transporter surf van.

Rev Phillips said: “Rob was and is and always will be a very precious man.

“I want to express my deepest sympathies to his family.

“We are here today to remember his life and recall happier days.”

Messages were read out by members of his Army regiment and friends, while the Blur song, Tender, was played to mourners during the service.

His partner Angela added: “Rob was very kind – he looked after my children, Jessica and Chloe, like they were his own.

“The key to Rob’s heart was his kite surfing.

“It took me three years to master it but he was always patient.

“We always did as much as possible together.”

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