Patrick Fleming spent most of his 94 years selflessly helping others, so it was a fitting gesture that when he passed away, he left a generous £2,000 gift in his will to the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) volunteering organisation, to continue the compassionate work he had helped to carry out over his 70 years as a member.
After leaving school at 14, Patrick began his working life as a miner, but he is fondly remembered by thousands of Burnley residents as a window cleaner, who finally retired aged 74 after selling his round three times, only to return on each occasion due to his popularity with his customers.
A devout Catholic and practical Christian, Patrick joined the SVP in his teens and tirelessly helped his community at every opportunity, delivering food parcels to the foodbank, furniture to those who were in need of it, or even giving an oven to a family who had no way of cooking. He changed the lives of hundreds of people in his community through simple acts of kindness over seven decades.
Throughout his long life, Patrick had the rare distinction to have met both Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to the cotton mills of Lancashire in 1931, and Pope Francis during a Mass at the Vatican in 2019 when he talked with the pontiff. Meanwhile, back in Burnley, Patrick and his family would forgo Christmas presents to give food to the local foodbank, and whenever he wasn’t at work, he would visit people suffering illness in their home or in hospital.
His son, Bernard Fleming, says: “To the residents of Burnley, Patrick might have seemed like an ordinary, humble working man. In a sense, it was true; he was humble, and he was definitely a working man, but he was not ordinary. He even completed his O-level maths not long before he retired, just because he could. He was also a life-long fan of Burnley Football Club and was a regular at Turf Moor. He was a wonderful, generous, kind man.”
Burnley man’s generous gift ensures legacy of kindness
Posted on 20.04.21