Ernie Westwell's Funeral Service
Hear the audio from Ernie’s funeral service – 9th March 2018.
Hear the audio from Ernie’s funeral service – 9th March 2018.
Through my friendship with Graham, I have known the Westwell family since the age of eleven. I spent many happy times with both Ernie and Heather in Rhosneigr and on many family holidays.
Ernie was to become very influential in my young life and I viewed him like a father figure. He would often speak to me about the Lord and what it meant to be a Christian. Through his passion for the gospel and godly example, a seed was sown in my heart which later resulted in me coming to the Lord at the age of fifteen.
Ernie will always be remembered for his faithfulness and trust in the Lord. To live for Christ is one thing, to die in Christ is another. When Ernie was saved, people told him it would never last. But by the grace of God, he was faithful to the end. Thank you Ernie! Until we meet again!
Selecting a few choice memories of Ernest is not easy as there are so many to choose from. I first came across Ernie nearly 70 years ago through watching my brother play football. On that occasion the match being played, at Gigg Lane, was the Kenyon cup final. My brother was running rings round Joshua Hoyle’s defence until Ernie, under instructions from the manager, waylaid into Victor which resulted in Victor having a permanent limp for the rest of the match. Joshua Hoyle’s went on to win four goals to two.
The next time I remember an encounter with Ernie was when he came up to me asking for a donation for Oxfam, which also gave him the opportunity to tell me about his new found faith in Jesus. The venue for that occasion was the Dye Works (Flan) where we both worked. I will never forget the times we had discussing the Bible. He not only spoke to me about the Lord in that factory, but many, many more. Moving round the factory as a mechanic gave him many opportunities to share his faith which he seized with both hands.
For me to see this macho man’s man, for that was my perception of him in his pre-conversion days, going around on what seemed to be religious crutches was a revelation. To me, Christianity was for those who needed a prop, but over time began to realise what real courage was really all about. Ernie’s zeal for sharing his faith could not be extinguished and he took the ridicule and scorn with friendliness and good humour.
His time keeping wasn’t the best. The times I had to wait to be picked up taking kids to Bury baths in his beloved Riley car and other venues, taught me to add 30 minutes to an hour on to the appointed time. Being oblivious to time was probably due to the fact that Ernie was never still. From opening up his home to kids, to spending hours in late night prayer meetings, to running meetings in the church building, to witnessing at every opportunity; Ernie filled every minute in his service for his Saviour. I praise God for ever having met this dear brother in Christ and will for ever be in his debt. His patience and persistence was surely one of the greatest factors in bringing me to faith in his and my glorious Saviour.
Dad always made time for us. I could see Jesus in his life, he was never offended.
He always turned the other cheek and went the extra mile.
I have lovely memories of when we used to live down there. I remember bouncing up and down on the space hopper in the garden and me and Louise pushing each other in the pram.
Grandad used to take us to the sweetie shop near by and buy us sweets, especially the coconut marshmallows xx
We will always remember grandad as a kind, caring, wonderful man. We used to love going to his house and spending time with him, especially playing football with him in the church hall. He made us feel like we were the best players he had ever seen.
We also have fond memories of watching many, many faulty towers episodes with him and we loved hearing him laugh all the way through. He would cry with laughter at certain episodes. We’ve loved that programme ever since xx
In 1966 we were two lonely people looking for genuine love, brought together in a jazz club by the lord. Over the next six months Ernie told me about the saviour and led me to trust in Jesus alone.
I loved Ernie for many reasons: we shared our faith together, he was my trusted best friend in this world.
We experienced many blessings and trials together and much love for each other and for our family in which we were greatly blessed.
I miss him every day but knowing he is safe with our saviour is a comfort beyond telling.
Goodbye for now DARLING MAN. Your Heath. xx
Ernie was one of a kind. A truly amazing Grandad with a unique sense of humour. Whatever the situation, he knew how to bring a smile to our faces. I’ll always treasure dog walks on the beach talking endlessly about football. And waking us up in the middle of the night for a midnight feast with home cooked chips.
Thank you for your unreserved love and support, your hair line and for all the unforgettable memories and stories. Your legacy will live on in all the many lives you’ve touched. I love and miss you, John
Having become a Christian at just 18 years old, one name that continually came up in nearly every conversation was “Ernie Westwell.” It seemed everyone had great things to say about him. I have to admit, as a young Christian I was really looking forward to meeting him. Having met him, I could see why people held him in such high regard. Because of my friendship with his son Graham I got to know Ernie a little more and enjoyed a number of short holidays down in Rhosneigr where he and his dear wife Heather put me up. They were great days. I also enjoyed, along with Graham, a shared love for Jazz and only wish I could have heard him play his trumpet more.
Being a young Christian, having left much of my former life and friends, with many insecurities and questions, I always found Ernie to be a solid, grounded man who seemed to understand how Christianity worked in normal everyday life. One piece of advice he gave me when I was struggling to know what to say to a dear religious relative of mine about my new faith, was to “Be real. Live out your faith before them with enthusiasm. Your conduct will often speak louder than any words.” That advice helped me greatly at the time and has stayed with since. As I came to know Ernie more over the years, particularly as he and Heather spent some time back in Ramsbottom worshipping with us, this of course was just how he lived his life; ‘Enthusiastically’ and ‘No Pretence’.
Part of my work is meeting members of our local community. Invariably I’d meet people who knew Ernie Westwell. They always have great stories to tell and always speak highly of him. He certainly has a wonderful reputation for good.
Remembering Ernie for me: He was unmistakably a man who loved Jesus and was always ready to testify of Him. He has a great family and had a great love for them all. He was a great trumpeter too. The fellowship meetings where he was present were always great. He had a great reputation, and was great to be with. He was a great encourager, a great listener, a great Christian and a great testimony to his Saviour. Ernie Westwell was a great man – and leaves us all a great legacy.
When I was a little girl and grandad was due for a visit, my excitement was palpable. Not only was I guaranteed wild games of fun, a handful of sweets and an afternoon of laughter, I also never quite knew which character grandad would turn up as. He enjoyed dressing up and acting different parts for our entertainment, an army Sergeant and a surfer to name a few.
I have so many memories of my grandad Westwell, both as a child and an adult. I was lucky to spend time with such a vibrant, warm and funny gentleman all through my life. From working at his Café, listening to his trumpet practises when he lived at our house and the many holidays we spent in Anglesey running wild on the sand dunes, even in recent years!
His love of man united and all things football helped contribute to my life long obsession and over the last few years, We enjoyed many Saturday nights watching match of the day together sharing our biased views about all things united.
I will miss watching films with him and him asking countless questions about the plot after falling asleep for half of it. I will miss his questions about my job even though he never quite understood what I did. I will miss his love of dogs and the kindness he showed every animal he came across.
I will just miss him.
He had a sparkle for life that is hard to imitate. As long as he had a constant supply of (English) food, his family, his faith, his wonderful wife and a dog by his side- he was happy. He could teach us all a lot about being thankful for what we have and enjoying each day. I know I am thankful for having such a wonderful grandad..
One of my favourite memories was when he would play the trumpet on Christmas morning – always were the best Christmases down in Anglesey!
I love my dad so very much and will really miss him. I have lots of fantastic memories of him but the one thing he would want me to say is that he loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart.
And praise God, although I grieve and am so sad, I know that one day I will see him again in heaven.
We will stand side by side praising our wonderful Lord and savior together.
One servant two places.
How do I describe my dad? It’s written all over the kids faces in the picture.
This is one of those memories that will never leave me.
It was dad’s birthday and the children took him a cake, it took him 5 minutes to blow the candles out, blowing over and under the cake and all over the kids. They loved it, but not as much as me, such joy, such happiness, just look at their faces.
How could I ever NOT believe in the Saviour that illuminated and filled his life, from my early years I knew it had to be real. To hear him pray and preach, many times being moved to tears what a privilege to talk with him after my conversion about this wonderful saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
When dad was greeted with the news that he had two weeks to live he had one response for the specialist “thanks for all you have done, I have eternal life through Jesus Christ”. As he sat thinking about this news he said “wow what will Raymond say when he sees me”. He could hardly speak about meeting Jesus without breaking down with joy.
One thing dad wanted me to know and remember was that but for the grace of God he was hell bound and deservedly so.
My last words to dad were “I will see you again down here or we will meet up there”, he laughed and cried at the same time. So …………….it’s in glory dad !!!!. Thanks for being such a wonderful dad
He always wanted to take the dogs out.
I will miss talking about football to him
I will miss dad in the church, he always find time and opportunity to share the gospel. I will miss the summerseat and the flan stories.
My best friend, My hero, My Daddy.
As kids, “Grandma and Grandad with the dogs” was how we distinguished Grandad Westwell from our other grandparents. We always knew that our trips to visit them would involve outdoor activities, tons of excitement and the kindest of Grandad’s.
Our most precious memories are spending summer holidays in Anglesey, which were always full with sand dune wide games, darts in the garage, endless cab tournaments and table tennis at the youth club.
Watching ‘What about Bob’ with Grandad and Dad was always a must, even though we were unable to hear the words over their roaring laughter!
The mandatory face wash concluded each evening and filled the cousins with delight, as we watched each other get dragged next to the sink to have a soapy face scrub by Grandad.
We will always remember the day we had just woken up to get ready for our flight to Spain, when Grandad appeared at the door in the early hours of the morning.
Ready to join us for our holiday, Grandad was dressed in snorkelling goggles, a Hawaiian tank top, shorts and flippers with his bucket and spade. The only thing to give away that he was unfortunately not joining us was his empty suitcase!
The video of us all singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Grandad as Rebecca held the cake is a classic, with Grandad’s many failed attempts to blow out the candles, came raspberries in our faces and uncontrollable laughter.
Due to Grandad’s constant wind ups, enthusiasm and thoughtfulness, there was never a dull moment in our childhood. All our love.
I would often speak with Ernie when he joined us for worship at Trinity Grace Church, and from everything that others told me about him I knew that we was always on “best behaviour” with me; he was very serious and sober, and I could see others in the background almost smirking as if to say “Come on Ernie, you can’t fool me!”
But there is one thing that never changed with Ernie; one thing that was always the same, no matter who he was speaking to; one topic of conversation; one enthusiasm; one joy; one focus; one obsession… JESUS! After the service Ernie always wanted to tell me how much he had enjoyed hearing about the Lord Jesus his precious Saviour and Friend; he would often be in tears as I preached, especially when the subject was the cross and the price that the Lord Jesus paid for our sins.
Ernie shared with Raymond (his pastor in Ramsbottom for many years) a profound love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and all that these men ever wanted was to tell others about the Saviour so that they could “fall in love” with him too.
When I think of Ernie, I always think of someone who loved the Lord so much. There was never anything too much that he would not do it for him: in the band; Sunday school; youth club; if it was something for the Lord, he was there.
Ernie loved a good laugh. One night we had a tug-o-war with boys vs girls. We were tugging so hard but getting nowhere. I looked over at the boys and they were stood away from the rope laughing their heads off as they had fastened their end of the rope to the piano leg!
One thing I will never forget after nearly 50 years is a bible time Ernie took. He put a big “O” on the board and he said this is “nothing”. One of the nothings that stood out to me that night came as he finished his message saying, “Nothing to pay because Jesus paid it all for us.” I have never forgotten that lesson.
Some words of a hymn have come to my mind:
“Safe in the arms of Jesus
Safe on His Gentle breast
There by His love are shaded
Sweetly my soul shall rest.”
Thank you Lord for Ernie.
A true gentleman, The life and soul of a room,
A football buddy and dog walking compadre, A fountain of wisdom who will never be forgotten.
I first met Ernie in the 1950’s at the Dyeworks in Hope Street, Ramsbottom. He was born and bred in Ramsbottom and knew everyone and everything there was to know about the town. This would prove very useful for his future evangelism. Ernie was known for his provocative impish humour. Pity you if your favourite football team was on a losing streak or you had a poor game of darts. You would be targeted!!
Ernie was a formidable defensive footballer for a Summerseat team, a team I believe that never lost a game. He had a saying of his defensive position, “None shall pass”! Again, his positive attitude would be vital in his future evangelism. Then, in 1961 at the invitation of pastor Raymond Gregory he went to the Billy Graham Manchester crusade. Ernie responded to the salvation in Christ Jesus, and Him alone. A few nights later, together with Raymond and Ernie, I went to the crusade and realised my need of salvation in the Lord! I continued to worship at the local Church of England, which was evangelical and had supported the Manchester crusade.
Ernie invited me to a Bible study in Summerseat in December 1961. The meeting took place in an old small garage (not quite what I expected). Present at the meeting were: Raymond Gregory (the preacher); his wife Muriel; Earnest; Lilian Petch; and myself. Raymond preached in a way I had never heard before, showing the eminence of the Lord. I soon forgot the utility of the garage and soon learned, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” (1 Corinthians 1v27). Later I learnt how God’s redeeming promise of Acts 2v47 is being fulfilled now, “And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.”
Thinking back to Hope Dyeworks. My abiding memory of Ernie’s witness to the Lord was an oily New Testament in the top pocket of his overalls. Ernie was a mechanic who repaired machinery, and so had access to all parts of the factory. So, after the machine repair, he would take out his oil stained New Testament and with oily fingers turn to some appropriate verse for the machine operative. At this time, I was a departmental manager and one of my duties was to sign “repair chits”, so I would know that the machine operative would get a good repair and some gospel comment as well!
So Earnest, as a somewhat provocative character, became a kindly evangelist, promoting the word of his Lord. This steamy, noisy, worldly, helpless and hopeless factory became aware of the truth that, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1v15).
In closing, it is right to mention the work of Billy Graham, who like our dear brother Earnest is, “Forever with the Lord. Amen, so let it be.
When visiting her father for the first time my girlfriend warned me, “He’s a born-again Christian and very religious.” And he was! Ernie was always talking about Jesus, and telling ME how I needed him to pay the price for my sins, and giving me Christian leaflets. I thought he was crazy, but had to admit that he lived as he spoke.
Thank God that two years later I too trusted in Jesus Christ, and I have the same relationship with God that Ernie had.
45 years later (at the end of his life on earth) Renie was still speaking to people about Jesus and looking forward to being with him in heaven. Now he knows that to be a reality!
My lovely Grandad.
So many wonderful memories of you to fill the rest of my life time without you. As a little girl my earliest memories are full of dog walks, famous face washes, Bible stories, secret midnight chips and singing songs; – which you encouraged and John certainly didn’t!
As I have grown up your love for animals has become my great love also and I am forever grateful for inheriting that from you. That kind heart of yours will always inspire me to care for every creature.
As well as this, your true passion is God and because of this even the last few tired conversations I had with you was all about your faith. In fact I can’t remember a conversation i’ve had with you which didn’t involve talking about God.
Your passion for God and for church is what you’re known for and we all treasure you for that. Love you always.
Ernie loved having fellowship with the brethren at the church in Summerseat, and would often be seen walking home in the wee small hours, after hours of fellowship with Jean and myself, Hal and Colleen.
I have fond memories of me, Ernie, Les, Ray and Jim practicing hymns and choruses for the brass band which was used in outreach, and the open-air on Holcombe Hill. (I played Double B Flat bass; Ernie & Jim the Cornet; Ray & Les the Tenor Horn.)
The church was particularly precious to me as a new convert and Ernie was of great help and encouragement to me in those early days. He was a dearly loved brother in the Lord.