It was with great sadness that we announced the death of Frank Hawley. Frank passed on Saturday 4th March 2023 around 17.00. His family was with him when he passed.
Frank was instrumental in the development of our parish council, was heavily involved in our First Holy Communion programme, taught for many years at Cardinal Newman High, and was also involved with our own school. A lovely tribute to Frank, focused on his teaching life and his career in rugby league has been written for the Warrington Guardian and you can read that article here. Funeral arrangements for Frank were for Monday 3rd April with concelebrated Requiem Mass at 11.00 at Ss Peter and Michael church with committal at the Walton Lea crematorium at 12.40. We conveyed a wish for family flowers only, however any additional donations were to go to St. Rocco’s Hospice in Frank's memory. John Glynn wrote a short message on behalf of the Parish Council and this can be read below. An additional piece in the Warrington Guardian appeared on the day of Frank's funeral and this can also be read here.
Frank's funeral Requiem Mass was viewed in church, in the garden using the live link and online via the same stream as that used in the garden and was viewed by more than 500 people.
Frank will be sorely missed. RIP
An Open Letter on behalf of St. Peter and St. Michael Parish Council on the death of
On behalf of all on the Parish Council, I would like to express our deepest sadness at the loss of Frank Hawley. He gave his heart and soul to St Peter and St. Michael's for many many years working to help keep our Parish alive. He gave a lot of his time and he was always hands-on working behind the scenes to help achieve the smooth running of the Parish, alongside many others who we have lost over the years. I personally enjoyed working alongside him on the First Holy Communion programme and learnt a lot from his knowledge. Like the other members who have also passed away, we can never fill their shoes but we must try to carry on the work that they undertook because they loved their church so much. They are the reason why it is still a vibrant Parish.
We pray also for Rita, Tony, Pauline and all of Frank's family. May god give them strength in their time of grief. God Bless them and thank you Frank for all you have done for St. Peter and St. Michael's parish.
John Glynn (Parish Council - Chair)
A tribute to Frank Hawley
In March 2023, we sadly lost one our most beloved parishioners, Frank Hawley. I would like to pay tribute to a man who meant so much to all of us.
Frank was a devoted and faithful servant of the Lord and of our parish. At the time of his death and in the few months since then, a lot was said and written by so many about Frank, and he was all of those things that have been said and written about him, and more.
I wish to pay tribute to the man I knew. To me, he was a good friend who had a kind word to say about everyone he knew. He was an integral part of our church and parish community, to coin a phrase, ‘A stalwart of the parish.’ Frank was a great support to me personally as a Deacon and as a friend. He offered me help, support and good council during a difficult time of my life a few years ago. The help he gave me was offered with his typical style of compassion and humility, and I am sure he offered similar help to others. He certainly was a man who thought of others before himself. His contribution to the parish was immense, and is well known in terms of the range of ways he helped and took part in parish and school life.
We all know that Frank was the fount of knowledge on all things within the world of Rugby League, and sport in general, but to me he was more than that. His knowledge of parishioners and their families, past and present was extensive and a great help to me as a newly ordained Deacon, who had to try to get to know parishioners better. His support for me during my studies for the Diaconate, and throughout my ministry, was immeasurable, and I will be forever grateful to him for that.
When the Lord called Frank home to his heavenly kingdom, we all lost a good man and a good friend. Our loss is the angels gain.
Deacon Jim McGraw
Order of Service
The Order of Service for Frank's funeral can be viewed and dowloaded below.
You can download a copy of the Order of Service using the blue button below.
Funeral and Eulogy
In all of the different parts of Frank's life, he was loved. So much so that our church at St. Peter and Michael's wasn't big enough to hold all of the people who had said they wished to pay their respects. The service could have been held at a larger venue (St. Oswald's) but such was Frank's love of our parish it would have been unthinkable to hold his Requiem Mass anywhere else. Therefore, plans were put in place to provide a streaming service both in the church garden and on the internet so that everyone could be accommodated. Facilities were put together to stream to a big screen housed in the pavilion along with a sound system which could drown out Woolston (turned down to an acceptable level) and the same stream was available on the internet. We can safely say that there were 500 people involved in the service whether in church, in the garden or on the internet. A great tribute indeed to Frank and his life.
The Mass was officiated by Fr. Nicholas Postlethwaite supported by our own Deacon Jim McGraw and senior altar server Oliver Bold and the eulogy was read by Andrew Hawley, Frank's nephew. Andrew has kindly sent us a copy of his beautifully written and heartfelt eulogy and it is faithfully reproduced below.
It’s impossible to know where to start, you only have to look at the thousands of messages and memories that have been shared with us over the last few weeks and take a look around at the church to see exactly what Fran, Fred, Frank, Oscar, Sir, Mr Hawley, Hooch, Father Frank and Hobbit meant to us all.
Born on the 3rd April 1951 to Joseph and Elizabeth Hawley, Francis Joseph, was the youngest of 3 siblings, proceeded by his older brother and sister Anthony and Angela.
It’s often stated that the Hawley family are stubborn, and if you tell them that they can’t do something, they do the opposite and do it anyway. Frank’s life started this way, born with curvature of the spine and a concave rib cage, Frank wasn’t supposed to be the flying athlete he later became. In fact, at one stage the doctors said he’d need to use a wheelchair later in life. At the age of 3, Frank’s condition meant he had to see a physio, given exercises to address the issues at hand, it was decided that as he was the baby of the family, everyone would have to join in, much to Tony’s and Angela’s disdain.
Frank attended St Albans Primary School, where he met lifelong friends in Bernard Jordan, Martin Wilson, Mike Kelly and Angela Horrigan to name but a few. These friendships have lasted a lifetime with regular catch ups and memories shared. It was as a youngster at St Albans that Frank began to play the greatest game of all and his lifetime with the sport began.
After St Albans he went on to study at West Park in St Helens. Affectionately known by his friends as Fred, after the 1920’s footballer, he was proud of being the Warringtonian behind enemy lines! One day expressing his love for Warrington RLFC he took his brother Tony’s Warrington shirt into school. Tony had acquired this from the Warrington Centre, Jim Challinor, and on the way back home, Frank’s school bag was thrown out the back window of the bus. Bag gone; Jim Challinor shirt gone. 60 years on and Tony has still not forgiven him. Well maybe until recently, although I think it was probably the last conversation they had!
Moving on from West park, Frank went on to attend Christ College to study Art, English, Religious Education alongside the teaching certificate. In 2019 he returned to Christ College, now named Liverpool Hope University to receive his Honorary teaching degree where funnily enough I had qualified a few years prior. Now a fully fledged teacher, Frank began to work at St John’s on September 11th 1972. In fact, although the school’s name changed, Frank remained at the same school for the whole 38 years of his teaching career. If you’d have witnessed his first day you wouldn’t have thought he’d have lasted 38 hours. Within 10 minutes of his first form time he managed to shatter a window in the classroom. 'Well,' said one of his pupils ‘that's your first week's wages up the spout sir!!''
If you thought of St Johns, or Cardinal Newman, you thought of Mr Hawley. They went hand in hand just like Warrington and it’s always our year. During his time at the school, he made lifelong friends, John Rigby, Mike Bradley, Jeff Yates, Harry Hampson and in later years Steve Roger. If you were a pupil, you’ll have no doubt been told about the very good book he was reading. It was called, it’s your time you’re wasting. And its certainly one of the many Frankism’s that have reached my classroom. Along with ‘Can I go to the toilet please Sir’. ‘At your age I think you probably can’. There was always a learning point, something to make you better.
One of my proudest moments of my teaching career was when I appeared in the list of the strictest teachers in Warrington. There I was in the top 3! Looking down the list 4, 5. Frank Hawley! I immediately got on the phone to show off – finally I’d beaten him at something!!! As always, he knew the exact words to keep your feet on the ground, whilst also reminding you he was still the master – "Ah but Andrew, I’ve been retired and out of the classroom for 18 months!" Come back when you can say that and you’re still number 5 on the list!
As Father Nicholas has already alluded to, faith was huge part of Frank’s life. And it was his faith that led him to meet the real love of his life, Rita. In the early 1970’s Father Beatty had arranged for the youth of the parishes to go to Liverpool to bring the pascal candle back to Warrington. On this little journey, Frank met Rita for the very first time. From there he went on to join Padgate Tennis and Bowling Club where Rita was already a member. Love blossomed and, on the 26th July 1975, they were married at St Oswald’s Church, Padgate. You only have to look at photos of the two of them back then, and photos of the two of them over recent years to see they were always very much in love and the perfect partnership. Well perhaps not on the tennis court,but apart from that….
By now Frank was also playing rugby for Woolston Rovers. Known affectionally by everyone as Oscar, one particular game stood out. Rita was so concerned about Frank’s welfare that she rushed onto the pitch to check on him. From gritted teeth whilst laying prone on the ground Frank muttered ‘Get off will you, I’m trying to win a penalty.’ Poacher turned gamekeeper perhaps?!? It wouldn’t be the last time he was lay prone on the rugby field with someone he loved looking down upon him, but more on that later.
After leaving Woolston Rovers, Frank went on to appear for Warrington Rugby Union Club breaking the club’s try scoring record, touching down on 40 occasions in one season. And if you’ve watched rugby union you’ll understand this is no mean feat!
In March 1981, Frank and Rita welcomed their first child Clare and then in April 1985 Francesca came along. Frank often stated that family was everything. That was certainly his mantra and he was so very proud of both of the girls and all their accomplishments throughout life. Even more so when he was able to welcome Mark and then Nick to the family. He is proud of the family units they have become, and his faith and guidance has been the pillar of the lives they are trying to create for their families. The girls’ childhoods were filled with many happy memories, with yearly holidays with friends, the Wilsons, the Jordan’s and the McQuiltons amongst many little jaunts to rugby league finals! It was as the girls grew up that they started to realise their Dad wasn’t just Frank Hawley, teacher, he was Frank Hawley Match Official star of Friday night TV, Saturday afternoon TV and Saturday Night TV. In fact, if you watched any rugby league between about 1995 and 2002, you’d probably have seen Frank more than Rita did!
Frank first joined Warrington Rugby League Referee’s Society in 1982, after retiring as a player and officiating in schoolboys games whilst working at St Johns. Frank rose through the ranks, officiating at the schoolboys final at Wembley in 1989, and undertaking his grade 1 referees assessment. In his own words, he was rather fortunate to have a bad game, which ensured that his career moved towards him becoming the merry flag waver we all remembered.
In 1992 he officiated in his first cup final, the Lancashire Cup, his only disappointment being that his Dad, Joe, missed the final as he was in hospital having an operation. Joe told him not to worry as there’d be plenty more. He was certainly right, unfortunately though, Joe didn’t get to witness any of the following after passing away in November 1992. Frank went on to be appear in the biggest games on the biggest stage, he was appointed to the 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 challenge cup finals at Wembley and the 1998 and 2002 Super League Grand Finals at Old Trafford amongst a number of international games including a World Cup semi final. Wozza you’re one up there pal!
Now, do you remember the earlier story about Frank lying prone on the turf looking up at someone he loved? Well, there was one particular game at Castleford, Karl Kirkpatrick was the referee. Cas went over to score and Frank was on the far touch line. Karl got in great position, was happy with what he’d seen. Looked to his near side, touch judge had run through to the dead ball line, all good. He looks to the far side for Frank. He’s nowhere to be seen. Not at the corner flag, not at the dead ball line. Karl’s thinking where is he?!? He looks along the line and there’s Frank, about 10 metres out, prone on the floor. He’d been knocked out cold by Tiger Man, the Castleford mascot. Karl pauses the game, goes over to check on Frank. Frank looks up, Karl looks down and Frank replies. "I love you Karl!!!" Well that was Karl’s version of events anyway. There are loads more stories that I could bore you with, how it got his nickname Hooch, leaving the country after officiating a game at Warrington, messing up his hair and the little black comb, swearing on National TV. I’m sure we’ll continue to share these memories in the years to come. All his rugby league exploits led to him being awarded the 2002 Warrington Guardian Sports Personality of the Year Award and more recently a heart and soul community award at Warrington Wolves. His footprint will live on forever.
On the 20th July 2010, Frank retired from teaching but continued to work at Cardinal Newman for a further 6 years in attendance and exam invigilation, taking his stay at the school to 44 years. However, even in retirement you could still find him working for the RFL as a match commissioner and time keeper, finally realising a dream of officiating Warrington in a major event when he was the timekeeper at the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley in 2018.
However retirement for Frank was all about time with Rita, the girls and the grandchildren, Isaac, Darcey, Harper, Martha and Blake. Frank was the proudest Grandad and would be especially proud of how they all have dealt with the last few weeks. In Harper’s very own words Grandad is now the brightest star in heaven and I’ve no doubt he’ll be shining brightly over all of them, watching on immensely proud of the people they become.
It was in Frank’s later life where I was lucky enough to spend lots of time in his company. I was fortunate enough to be mentored by him when I took up the whistle, coached by him about how to handle school life, partnered by him on the tennis court amongst enjoying his company on a number of Wembley trips to watch our beloved Warrington RLFC. Just a few weeks ago Warrington made Frank’s last rugby league game something for all of us to remember. They went above and beyond and we cannot thank them enough. If it is finally Warrington’s year there would be no finer tribute.
I could stand and talk about Frank’s life for days, we haven’t touched upon the work he did as a Development officer at Warrington Rugby League Referee’s society, being a governor at both Cardinal Newman and St Peters. Working with the youngsters of the parish, preparing them for the sacraments. Completing charity runs in the aid of CAFOD. The list was endless, Frank’s life was all about empowering others, making them the best versions of themselves they could be. It is why he was so well loved everywhere he went. You can see that extraordinary impact he had on people here today, and the legacy he leaves for us is to give ourselves to serve others, to make them the best people they can be.
Having read every comment left by every single person over the last few weeks and his love for his hometown I thought this comment summed him up perfectly, Mr Hawley, The Warringtonian’s Warringtonian.
The final time we met, you left with me with these words, good night, God bless. Today it is my turn to do the same.
"Good night, God bless my hero, with all our love."
Frank's Parish legacy
Frank was a loyal friend to many people here at St. Peter and St. Michael's but also a very dedicated and conscientious member of the Parish. He was never shy when it came to helping out and volunteering for many of the jobs that needed to be done.
Members of the Parish Council were lucky enough to work alongside Frank on many occasions especially at the time of the First Holy Communion Programme which he was heavily involved in for many years from the start to the end of the programme of activities. He also sat with us on the Parish Council giving many hours of his time to ensure the smooth running of our fantastic church and the functions necessary to keep the parish vibrant.
His presence is deeply missed by all of us and we know he can never be replaced but I know that he will be watching over us and praying for us all as we continue his great work here in the Parish.
Above all, Frank's enthusiasm for his faith should be a inspiration to us all and encourage us that we can all make a difference if we try.
God bless you Frank. We will miss you always.
John Glynn and the team on the Parish Council.
A replay of the service can be viewed online by clicking on the photo of Frank below.
Rita, Clare, Francesca, Pauline and Tony would like to sincerely thank Fr. Nicholas, Deacon Jim, Oliver Bold, Eucharistic Ministers, Stewards, Organist, Choir and the wider community of friends, teaching colleagues, ex-pupils, RFL officials, players, neighbours, and all others who helped to make Mondays Requiem Mass and Crematorium Service such a wonderful tribute to Frank.
The Family were overwhelmed by the number of people attending both services. We believe the numbers at the Mass in the Church and Garden were between 450 and 500. The decision to live stream the Mass onto a TV in the Church garden was a wise one; without this facility many people would not have been able to join in the service. Also the number of sympathy cards, Mass cards and floral tributes received have been beyond expectation.
The day was a wonderful celebration of Frank’s life and the lasting impression he had on so many people’s lives was obvious to see.
Thank you once again for the love and compassion shown to the family at this difficult time.
Our thoughts and prayers are also with the others at St. Peter’s who are currently dealing with the loss of loved ones, especially the Newton, Marsh and Lowrey families.
We know that the generous St. Peter’s community will help them all to get through this difficult time.
The Hawley Family.
Francis Joseph Hawley (1951 - 2023) R.I.P