Tributes paid to former mayor and Heywood councillor Peter Rush

Date published: 22 February 2024

Tributes have been paid to Heywood Councillor Peter Rush, who sadly died at the age of 88 on Wednesday (21 February).

A long-serving councillor, Peter had been a Labour councillor for North Heywood since in 2015, after initially being elected for the Liberal Democrats in 2006.

Councillor Rush was chair of the council’s charitable trustee committee and a committee member for Heywood Township as well as the planning and licensing committee.

He was mayor of the borough between 2013 and 2014 and was also a former chairman and director of Rochdale Hornets.


Councillor Peter Rush was re-elected in North Heywood ward
Councillor Peter Rush was re-elected in North Heywood ward in 2022


Peter and his wife, Monica, also ran The Albany in Heywood between 1984 and 2004 and he had also served as president for the Rotary Club of Heywood.

He is survived by his wife Monica, stepdaughter Georgina, sons Andrew, Kevan and Michael, and daughter Anne.

Peter’s association with Rochdale Hornets covered over six decades. Having been a founder member of Spotland Rangers in the early 1950s, he began his relationship with Hornets when he played for the club while still an amateur.

Later in life, he moved from the playing field to the boardroom, serving first as a director and then as chairman between 1993 and 1996 - helping to run an A team and academy. He also raised several thousands of pounds for Hornets and forged strong links with the local authority. He returned for a short spell as a director in 2002.

Between 2006 and 2011, Councillor Rush also served as a director of the Denehurst Park Stadium Company.


Chairman of Hornets Peter Rush with the new coaching team David Larder and Matt Calland
Peter Rush, then Chairman of Hornets, with David Larder and Matt Calland in 2019


In his civic role as Mayor of Rochdale, he was proud to welcome the Fijian national team to the town in 2013, hosting a formal reception at the town hall ahead of a sell-out World Cup game against Ireland at the Crown Oil Arena.

Also in his mayoral year, Peter was proud to present Rochdale Hornets with the Freedom of the Borough after the club won its first trophy in 91 years, beating Oldham Roughyeds in the 2013 League 1 promotion play-off final.

In 2017, he was co-opted back onto the Hornets board and, in 2020, accepted a role as club ambassador.

Tributes have been paid to Peter Rush by many who knew him, including the current chairman of Rochdale Hornets, Andy Mazey, and Neil Emmott, leader of Rochdale Borough Council.

Councillor Emmott said: “Peter lived a long and fulfilling life and was rightly proud of his title as ‘Mr Heywood’.

“He was a first-class community campaigner, who served residents with great diligence over his many years as a councillor. He was a person of great charm, a loyal family man with a loving wife, children and grandchildren, and someone who will be widely missed across the Heywood community and indeed the whole borough.

“On a personal level, I will miss his wise counsel and common-sense approach to politics and life. My thoughts are with Peter’s loved ones at this difficult time.”


Mayor’s Charity Ball - Mayor Peter Rush and Mayoress Monica Rush
Then-Mayor and Mayoress Peter and Monica Rush at the Mayor’s Charity Ball


Mr Mazey said: “Peter was a lovely man who I had the pleasure of meeting before my arrival at Hornets in RFL meetings and rugby league circles. I first truly got to know Peter however when I formed the consortium that took control of the club early in 2020. 

"One of my first actions as chairman was to ask Peter to take an honorary role as an ambassador of the club. He was delighted to be asked and was full of helpful advice. From that day until to his last, he remained 100% supportive of myself, the board of directors and his beloved Rochdale Hornets.

"We all will undoubtably have many great memories of Peter to remember him by. On a personal note, I will never forget an afternoon we shared together at the outset of my tenure in 2020. Peter invited me for lunch at Rochdale Town Hall and gave me a guided tour from top to bottom of the grand old historic building, which of course opened in the same year as Rochdale Hornets was formed.

"In his later years he worked as part of the committee which has established All Hornets, the club’s official supporters’ association. His presence will be sadly missed, particularly on match days and on the team bus travelling to and from away games."


Peter Rush with Andy Mazey and Neil Emmott
Peter Rush with Andy Mazey and Neil Emmott


Mr Mazey continued: "Indeed, just last summer following a hard-fought away victory, we had a few drinks and a singsong to celebrate on the way home. Peter was in fine form, entertaining us all with a small glass of beer in hand, and giving a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ as we headed back from London to Rochdale.

"I last saw Peter when I visited him at his home on Friday with a signed 2024 playing jersey on behalf of everyone at the club. I got to see that smile on his face one last time, and he lifted himself up in the bed and became alert when he saw the shirt.

“It was a moment that whilst extremely sad, I’m so glad we had together, and he will never be forgotten."

A minute’s silence was observed as a mark of respect at the meeting of the full council yesterday (21 February).

Although Councillor Rush was part of the Labour group, he was previously a Liberal Democrat, which Councillor Andy Kelly, leader of the Lib Dems, admitted was the reason they had not spoken as much in recent years. However, Councillor Kelly told his colleagues fond memories he shared with the late councillor during his time as mayor and with their shared love of Man City. 

Councillor John Taylor, leader of the Conservatives paid tribute to Councillor Rush, saying: “[Peter was] another public servant who served this council well. I got to know Peter as soon as I came onto council as we both sat on the planning panel and quickly realised he knew my uncle who had played for Hornets.

“A man of the people and in many ways Mr Heywood, a man who seemed more interested in politics and more interested in the community.

“We will all miss Peter. On behalf of all of our group, I can say Peter will be sadly missed and our thoughts are very much with his family at this difficult time.”

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