HARTLEPOOL folk turned out to pay a fond farewell to one of the town’s best-known characters.
Lawrence Martin was a familiar face around the town centre, and was well-known for his flamboyant dress sense and his love of football.
He was a familiar face at Hartlepool United games, so there were surprised looks amongst the congregation when it emerged he was actually a Crystal Palace fan and was even kitted out in the Eagles’ kit for his final journey.
Lawrence, 60, was found dead at his home in Rium Terrace, off Raby Road, on June 5.
In the days after his death police appealed for any family members to come forward.
And despite that appeal ultimately proving to be unsuccessful, around 70 members of his Hartlepool ‘family’ gathered at Stranton Crematorium to pay their respects at his funeral yesterday.
Reverend Kevin Leavesley, who led the service, told the congregation in the chapel they were there not to mourn Lawrence but to celebrate the fact he was reunited with his mum Marie, who “he missed more than life itself”.
The coffin was carried into the church to Glad All Over, the anthem adopted by Crystal Palace football fans, while there was applause as the congregation filed out to Elvis Presley’s All Shook Up.
In between, there were laughs and smiles as Rev Leavesley spoke of Lawrence’s dress sense.
He said: “Some of you knew Lawrence for a long time, others only met him recently.
“But your lives were touched by the life of Lawrence Martin whenever your paths crossed.
“You knew his dress sense. He was renowned for it - and dress was the operative word.
“The word dress should be underlined in italics. There was the odd hairpiece as well.
“He was eccentric, he was a character. He could be stubborn. But above all, he was true to himself.”
Rev Leavesley also spoke of Lawrence’s love for TV, and revealed that he never owned a television for years but after being given a DVD player he was catching up with some classics.
“He was delighted to get a box set of Steptoe and Son,” he added.
“He loved the old sitcomes, like Porridge. He had recently started watching Mrs Brown’s Boys - he thought that was hilarious.
“We all know of his love for football. It’s just a shame he supported Crystal Palace. He is wearing his Crystal Palace kit now.”
Lawrence love of international football was also mentioned, with mention of how he referred to Germany as “my boys” and also had a soft spot for the Argentina team, hence the fact Sarah Brightman’s version of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina was played mid-service.
Rev Leavesley went on: “This is a sad farewell, but also a celebration of Lawrence’s life.
“We trust now that he rests in peace with his mum.
“I thank you, on Lawrence’s behalf, for being here today and for the way you all helped in your own way to look after him. It is appreciated.”
Rev Leavesley revealed that Lawrence was cremated with a picture of his beloved mum, and that his ashes were to be buried with her in London.