A TOWN funeral director has been invited to a thanksgiving service in London to celebrate the life and work of Nelson Mandela.
Carl Mean, of Victoria House Funeral Service, in Victoria Road, Hartlepool, set up a book of remembrance in memory of the former South African president, who passed away in December last year.
More than 50 people from Hartlepool went into the funeral home and paid tribute to Mr Mandela by writing comments and signing their names in the book, which was left open for a fortnight after his death.
Following that, Carl forwarded the book to the South African High Commission, in London, after which he received a telephone call from a representative there thanking him for it.
But Carl was totally surprised when he received an email from the Commission inviting him to Westminister Abbey for a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of Nelson Mandela on Monday, March 3. He told the Mail: “I was totally surprised– it was a bolt out of the blue.
“I think it will be nice for the people of Hartlepool to get some recognition, and although we’re a small town it’s nice that we remembered such a public and influential figure for his hard work to humanity.
“It’s good that they have recognised what we did in remembering Mr Mandela.
“I’m pleased and excited, and very proud, to be honest, to attend on behalf of the people of Hartlepool.”
Hartlepool Borough Council leaders marked the death of South Africa’s first black president, who died at the age of 95, by flying the flag at half mast.
Elsewhere in the area, English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College marked the icon’s death with a mass for staff and students.
Mr Mandela died surrounded by family at his home in Johannesburg.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Mr Mandela, who received a state funeral with flags flown at half-mast, had campaigned against white-only rule.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, but was released on this day in 1990 as South Africa began to move away from strict racial segregation.