TRIBUTES have been paid to Hartlepool’s Superintendent Registrar who passed away at the weekend.
Peter Spires died aged 64 on Sunday at Hartlepool & District Hospice after a battle with illness.
Mr Spires married thousands of town couples and registered countless births and deaths from starting in the role in July 1985.
His official title with Hartlepool Borough Council was registration and nationality services manager and he also conducted scores of ceremonies to induct people from outside the UK as British citizens.
He was President of the Society of Registration Officers (SORO) and also a member of its National Executive Committee, playing a key part in developing the registration service nationally.
In a recent letter of thanks to Mr Spires, Susan Henstock, Deputy Registrar General for England and Wales, wrote: “I know that throughout your career you have carried out your duties in a friendly and courteous manner, and clearly enjoyed your role as Superintendent Registrar.
“Over the years you have built up an extensive knowledge of registration law and practice and put your knowledge and experience to good use in advising customers and colleagues alike.
“You have comprehensively fulfilled your duties, providing helpful advice to the public, completing notices and conducting ceremonies in a friendly and dignified manner.”
Mr Spires, who lived in the Elwick Road area of Hartlepool, leaves behind wife Jenny, children David and Jo, daughter-in-law Joanne and grandchildren Daniel, Megan, Adam and Ben.
He was planning to retire this year so he could spend more time with his family.
Council chairman, Coun Carl Richardson, said: “I first met Peter when he carried out my marriage ceremony in 1993 and we subsequently became good friends.
“More recently, I worked with him on citizenship ceremonies to welcome new citizens to Hartlepool and he was also an enthusiastic member of Hartlepool’s Fairtrade Steering Committee.
“He was an excellent council officer and a very genuine and caring man who touched the hearts of people wherever he went.
“Thousands of people will have come into contact with him in the course of his career, including lots of babies whose birth he registered and who later returned as adults to be married by him.
“The great respect and affection in which Peter was held is reflected by the many messages of sympathy which have been sent by his friends and colleagues from across the North-East and from much further afield as well.
“Our thoughts are with Peter’s family at this very sad time.”
Mr Spires was also international officer for the town’s Unison union branch.
Unison joint branch secretary Edwin Jeffries said: “Peter was a keen and skilled photographer and attended at all major rallies and demos.
“He was a lovely man, and cared deeply for others’ well-being and a staunch opponent of all forms of discrimination.
“He had a gentle, but infectious sense of humour and was instantly liked by all who came into contact with him.
“He will be sadly missed.”
Mr Spires, who was born in Carlisle, had worked as an RAF photographer, serving in Germany and Cyprus, and was later a kitchen salesman.
He became Hartlepool’s Superintendent Registrar for the former Cleveland County Council in 1985, having previously held a similar role in Cumbria.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday at 11am at St George’s United Reformed Church, in Park Road.
Mr Spires will be buried at Carlisle Woodland Cemetery.