Touching send-off for ‘legend’ employee as colleagues line the street
Colleagues formed a huge guard of honour at one of Rossendale’s largest businesses to applaud a caring driver as he made his final journey Dennis Law, or ‘Strap’ as he was known to his friends, completed his final drive, on the back of an instantly recognisable yellow and black J and J Ormerod 18-tonne rigid truck, a fitting tribute to the employee of more than 35 years. After leaving Anthony Johnson Funeral Directors on Newchurch Road, Stacksteads, the cortege passed JJO’s Olive Mill, where colleagues stood outside to pay their respects, it then went to the company’s Greenacre Mill on Farholme Lane before driving through past Colonial House and through the car park where bosses and staff applauded their colleague.
Dennis, who died aged 79 after a short illness, was described as a ‘legend’ by the Managing Director of JJO Stephen Greenhalgh, who attended his packed funeral at Central Methodist Church, Bacup, along with many members of staff. He said: “Dennis was a true gent who took time to help less experienced drivers and share his wisdom with new starters.
“He joined the business in the mid 80’s when we really didn’t deliver outside of the Northwest, however we were soon operating nationwide. “Dennis spent many nights away from home in his specially adapted MAN truck with a sleeper cab. His catchphrase, usually shouted at full volume, ‘Strap up’ is still heard daily in our warehouse, bringing a smile to those who knew him.”
The curtains on the truck, driven by Matt Goodwin, were not strapped – instead they were fastened open to display his coffin and many floral arrangements one spelling Strap, Dad, Grandad and one in the shape of a football. A ‘Strap’ number plate was on the front and two huge pictures had been made into banners for inside the truck and over the back. Chris Fitton accompanied Matt in the cab.
He said: “I have been a driver with JJO for 33 years and I worked with Dennis for more than 20 years. “He was a lovely man, helpful, so helpful. I was only 23 when I started and he taught me all that I know, good things as well as bad, ha.
Driving was in his blood, it really was, and it is right that he made his last journey on a JJO truck.” Mourners entered Central Methodist’s to ‘King of the Road’ and Minister the Rev David Burrow recounted how Dennis was one of nine children brought up in a two-bedroom house and how he never forgot his upbringing. He said: “He was always helping people and returning home without his sleeping bag because he had given it to someone who was homeless.
He would also buy presents for children on his street at Christmas time and Easter time. He said how he doted on his family, and every day would see his daughter Donna Elcock and her husband Warren, whom he regarded as another son. Donna read out an emotional tribute to her dad and granddaughter J-Cee had written a special poem describing Dennis as ‘one in a million’.
Dennis was carried out of the church to Elvis Presley’s My Way and made his final journey to Whitworth Cemetery on the back of the JJO lorry.
He leaves children Donna, Gary and Louise, son-in-law Warren, grandchildren Leah, Tyrone, J-Cee, and Nevaeh, great-grandchildren Florence and Arthur, four brothers, two sisters, ex-wife Susan, in-laws, nieces and nephews, and his close friend Matt.