A community today said farewell to former MP John Cummings, who represented it in Parliament for 23 years.
Mourners gathered at St John’s RC Church at Murton to pay their respects to the long-serving member for Easington.
The 73-year-old died on Tuesday, January 4, at St Margaret’s care home in Durham, where he had been cared for since being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Mr Cummings represented the Easington constituency from 1987 until 2010, when he stood down.
An ex-miner, Mr Cummings was elected with one of the highest majorities, 24,639, and went on to serve the constituency through some of its most turbulent times.
At his funeral today, Mr Cummings’ mformer researcher Grahame Morris, who succeeded him as MP, led the eulogy and said he had been a “wonderful colleague and friend”.
A message was read out from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said: “He served with great dedication for 23 years.
“I first got to know John on a delegation to Angola, and it was obvious to me early on John strongly fought for his beliefs.
“Like so many generations of Labour politicians, his interest was formed in the trade unions.
“John pushed for better conditions for mine workers and John fought hard and held firm beliefs about social injustice.”
He added that Mr Cummings’ views were those at the heart of Labour’s own values.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown also sent a note.
It said: “John, as an MP, never ceased to remind us about our responsibilities to the people we represented, and would never cease to speak from his heart for the community he served.”
Mr Cummings, who was sponsored by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), was well known for always being available to help union members and the people of East Durham.
Durham Miners’ Association said “his politics were based firmly in the community he loved,” and added that was committed to social justice, and organised many social events for aged mineworkers.
Mr Cummings worked as a pit electrician at Murton Colliery and, in 1968, aged 25, became lodge secretary of Murton Colliery Mechanics.
His interest in politics began as a Young Socialist, and he became one of Easington’s youngest councillors in 1970.
He became chairman of Easington District Council in 1974 and its leader in 1979 - a post he held until entering the House of Commons.
He also served as a trustee of the NUM from 1986 until 2000.