TRIBUTES have poured in following the death of a much-loved gym owner.

David Mather, the founder of Dave's Gym in Northwich, has died aged 83.

The gym celebrated its 50th birthday in March, with Dave and its members having raised more than £100,000 for various charities over the years.

His son, Neil Mather, said: “As a family we are totally overwhelmed by the amount of love shown for Dave, we would like to thank everyone for their cards, flowers, kind words and love – it means the world to us!

“Dave loved life, bad jokes and loved people!

“Missing you already!”

Dave was born in Rudheath in 1939 to George and Margaret Mather.

The family later moved to Wilson Crescent in Lostock Gralam, with Dave and his six siblings all attending Lostock School and then Rudheath Senior School.

It was at the age of 13 Dave first began working, delivering bread on a bike for a then small Roberts Bakery.

READ MORE: Family-run gym celebrates 50th anniversary

Northwich Guardian: Dave Mather with wife Joyce in the 1980sDave Mather with wife Joyce in the 1980s (Image: Daves Gym)

He followed the bakery when it moved to its current site, initially as a van lad before becoming a bread salesman and then sales manager with 40 years of service under his belt.

It was while working as a bread salesman he met his wife, Joyce, while on a round in Runcorn.

They married in 1964 and moved to Richard Street, where daughter Karen was born in 1968 followed by son Neil in 1970.

“Both Dave and Joyce loved to dance, and were more than happy to get up and jive at any given chance,” added Neil.

“Sequence dancing was added to their repertoire which they enjoyed every Saturday night.

“After the closing of Lostock Club, they became founder members of the Breakaway dance club and enjoyed nights away dancing in Blackpool and Southport.”

Dave and Joyce bought a greengrocers on Middlewich Road in 1969 and transformed it into Mathers Do-It-Yourself.

Outside of work, Dave’s passion for keeping fit began with judo before he set up the Roberts Bakery tug of war team, which would go on to beat the world champions at the Cheshire Championships.

In 1973 Dave acquired a room to rent at the back of Northwich Youth Club, with the help of Alan Roberts of Roberts Bakery, and Dave's Gym was born.

The gym grew rapidly in popularity, eventually moving to its current location on Station Road in 1994 as the whole family gave up their jobs to focus on the business full time.

His next aim was to give something back and so, with the help of members, he started raising money for charities.

Neil said: “To date, Dave with continued support of his members, has raised more than £100,000 for charity.

“He was still very much the welcoming face of the gym, cracking jokes and telling tales up to last year when he was well into his eighties.

“Dave always cherished the fact that some of the very first friends and members still train with us today, 50 years later!”

Dave died on July 24, 2023.

The news was announced on the gym's Facebook, with hundreds taking to the comments to pay their respects and share memories.

His funeral service will be held at 12pm on Thursday, August 10, at St Helen’s Parish Church.

Instead of flowers, people are asked to make donations to Cardiac Risk in the Young, with more information available by contacting George Bell Funeral Service on 01606 42534.