SCORES of people paid their last respects to a pillar of the community who helped hundreds of people transform their lives.
Family, friends and colleagues said their final goodbye to community stalwart John Reid who dedicated his life to helping others.
The founder member and chairman of Manor West Centre, in Brierton Lane, Hartlepool, died last Friday following a battle with heart problems.
There was not a dry eye in the house as hundreds gathered at his funeral and celebrated the life of the 70-year-old.
John’s colleagues stood proud in their uniform as Manor West Centre minibuses followed the hearse into the Stranton Cemetery.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, Hartlepool Borough council chairman, Councillor Carl Richardson and leading police officers also attended.
They were joined by family and friends, all whose lives have been touched by the community champion.
Beautiful floral displays lined the entrance along with touching messages.
One, left by his loving wife, Doreen, 66, read: “Always in my heart and thoughts for ever and ever.”
The service was exactly what John wanted as he organised it all before he died.
He started the COOL project for youngsters at Owton Manor Primary School and set up a job club. Other activities and courses followed.
The success of the centre started when John set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in October 2002, which he operated from his spare bedroom. The dad of Julie Marshall, 44, and Stephanie Green, 34, then moved on to looking for something for children to do and set up the Manor West Centre a year later.
He has been in and out of hospital over the last year after his heart and kidneys started to fail.
John spent the last two weeks of his life in Hartlepool & District Hospice.
Julie, also a founder member of the centre and married to Gary, 46, said: “He has given people a brighter future, he has put kids on the right track.
“He has left a big hole in the town. The community’s loss is heaven’s gain.”
A touching message by his granddaughter, Laura Marshall, 22, was read out at his funeral on behalf of herself and John’s three other grandchildren, Abbie Marshall, 16, Hollie Green, 10, and six-year old Jack Green.
It said: “A big piece of us has been taken away. Love you forever.”
John was born in Easington Colliery and worked at the local pit for 10 years after leaving school.
He met Doreen at the former Devon pub in Hartlepool’s Church Street when he was 22.
The couple went on to run a number of pubs together, including the North Eastern, in Lynn Street, and the Iona, in Easington Road.
John, a former Owton Manor Primary School governor, had sat on a number of boards including Housing Hartlepool.
He was also involved in setting up a boxing club and organised shows for Hartlepool & District Hospice.
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