A family have paid tribute to a much-loved great-grandfather, who ran an opticians in Farnworth for many years and achieved international headlines in March after he recovered from coronavirus at the age of 98.

Jack Bowden passed away on June 6, a week after his 99th birthday; his death was not related to coronavirus.

The former optician and chemist made an impact on both a local and national level.

In the Second World War Jack served as a petty officer in the Royal Navy where he worked in a laboratory in Clevedon.

There he experimented with developing penicillin, before being relocated to Portsmouth and to treat soldiers during the D-Day landings.

At the end of the war he returned to Bolton and married his wife Kathleen, they then went on to have four children.

For many years Jack ran the family business, Bowden Opticians in Farnworth.

His youngest son Mark said: "My parents were keen sailors and my dad was one of the founding members of Belmont Sailing Club, even building his own boat in his garage.

"As they grew older my father became an avid gardener and joined the Orchid Society, growing them in the green house.

"He always had lots of interests, he even became an enthusiast of Roman ruins and had lots of books on the topic."

Sadly Kathleen passed away in 1999 and Jack had to adjust to life without her.

Mark said: "He'd never cooked before in his life, he had to learn everything, but he became very good at it and made some fantastic meals.

"It was very moving when he sold the family home, I have this memory of him walking out the door with his suitcase and he kissed the house goodbye."

For the past five years Jack has lived in The Vicarage care home, but he kept up to date on how the family business was doing.

Mark said: "He was fascinated to hear about how we were doing and he stayed mentally alert, I think it gave him a purpose.

"When he was ill earlier this year we really thought we would lose him, but everyone was amazed when he got better.

"I thought how he was going out in a blaze of glory, I had wanted to show him all the articles written about his recovery but unfortunately I couldn't meet him face to face, so I never got to share those.

"Sadly he broke his hip about five weeks later, and he deteriorated after that. He spent his last week in his care home and we managed to give him his cards for his birthday."

Mark's brother John recalls that Jack lived a varied but challenging life, like all veterans. He said: "I never saw him cry, he told me once that when you've seen someone with their face blown off it makes you hard.

"But my daughter Nicola has fond memories of sitting on his knee and my father reading books to her.

"He was ever so proud when she got her master's degree, Nicola has now decided it's time to complete her PHD, saying she's doing it for her grandpa.

"He certainly lived a very interesting life."

A small family funeral will be held for Jack in the coming weeks.