Farewell to “Father Jack”

PAYING TRIBUTE: Cherie Blair holds the arm of John Burton, Tony Blair's former constituency agent, as they arrived at St Edmund's Church, in Sedgefield, for the funeral of Father John Caden, the Blairs' family priest
PAYING TRIBUTE: Cherie Blair holds the arm of John Burton, Tony Blair's former constituency agent, as they arrived at St Edmund's Church, in Sedgefield, for the funeral of Father John Caden, the Blairs' family priest

PARISHIONERS including former Prime Minister Tony Blair and wife Cherie paid their respects to a priest who served his community for more than 50 years.

A funeral was held following the death of Hartlepool-born Father John Caden, who served Sedgefield’s St John Fisher RC Church for 55 years and was the former Prime Minister’s former tennis partner.

Father Caden, known as Jack, baptised all of Mr Blair and wife Cherie’s children, died last month aged 89.

His funeral was held at St Edmund’s Church in the village where a huge gathering remembered Fr Caden, who celebrated 60 years in the priesthood in 2008.

Among the congregation were the Blairs Mr Blair’s former agent John Burton.

Fr Caden had close friends among the stars of theatre as he served as a curate at the Sunderland Empire Theatre early in his career and developed several close friendships with stars including Val Doonican and Frankie Vaughan.

He had a keen interest in education and served for several years as chairman of governors at schools including St William’s Primary School, in Trimdon Village.

In 1989 he was made an Honorary Alderman of Durham County Council, having served as an independent councillor for the previous 16 years, and he was also vice chairman of South Durham Health Authority until 1988.

After the service he was buried at Sedgefield Cemetery beside his mother.

A full report will appear in Wednesday’s Mail.