Tribute paid to popular Lancaster businessman who lived life to the full

Dave Helme.
Dave Helme.

A popular Lancaster businessman, who had ‘a big smile and a big heart’, has died aged 63.

David Helme, who ran Bailrigg Service Station at Lancaster University with his wife Ann for 27 years, passed away on August 23 in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary after a short illness.

Dave, as he preferred to be known, ran the campus garage, which provided car sales, servicing and repairs, fuel and vehicle hire.

Customers, who included University staff and students, came from near and far to benefit from Dave’s top class service, a good deal and some straight-talking customer management.

Born and bred in Garstang, Dave left Garstang High School at 15 and became an apprentice motor mechanic at the former Oliver Rix Garage in Lancaster.

He qualified and later moved to Mayfield Garage in Bare before taking up a role at Lancaster Police Station where he and his dad Dennis ran the garage looking after all the police vehicles.

Some 14 years later, he took over the university garage, which he ran with Ann until the couple decided to retire earlier this year.

His diagnosis with cancer accelerated the business sale to Pye Motors in February.

He and Ann met at Blackpool Mecca, where they both enjoyed the northern soul music scene.

The couple married in 1978 and lived in Nether Kellet before moving to their current home in Michaelson Avenue, Torrisholme.

Dave’s main passion outside the garage, cars, his garden and the odd spot of holiday fishing, was his family – daughters Claire and Jayne, their husbands Grahame and Mike, and his grandchildren with whom he spent many hours.

Steve Price, who worked for Dave at Bailrigg for more than 20 years, said: “Dave was renowned as a real prankster who always loved a laugh and a joke. Somehow, he could always get away with being cheeky.

“But he was a great listener who had a big heart – would do anything for anybody – real salt of the earth.”

The funeral will take place on Tuesday September 10 at Beetham Crematorium at 11am.