Tributes to former Mayoress of Hartlepool

John and Grace McCrae celebrating 70 years of marriage.
John and Grace McCrae celebrating 70 years of marriage.

EMOTIONAL tributes have been made to a former Mayoress of Hartlepool who has passed away at the age of 91.

Grace MacRae (nee Rochester), wife of former Hartlepool Mayor and councillor John MacRae, was Mayoress in 1988-89 and said one of her proudest moments was to visit Buckingham Palace, or the “Queen’s House”.

Born in Hartlepool and brought up on Central Estate, the former Galley’s Field School pupil worked in Blackett’s, in Church Street, before going on to work in the laboratories at ICI, then as a supervisor at AEI, also known as GEC.

Grace had been married to John for over 70 years and lived on the Headland, in Hartlepool. The pair have two sons David and Ian, four grandchildren and eight great- grandchildren.

Civic leaders have paid their own tributes to a “very kind, warm-hearted lady”.

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, Hartlepool’s ceremonial mayor, said: “Colleagues have always spoken fondly of Grace MacRae.

“She was a very kind, warm-hearted lady and was an excellent ambassador when representing the town as Mayoress. My thoughts are very much with John and all of Grace’s family at this sad time.”

Dave Stubbs, chief executive of Hartlepool Council, added: “I’ll remember Grace as a very caring, family person who was immensely proud of her home town.

“She took a genuine interest in people and will be deeply missed by her family and all who knew her.”

Grace and John were devoted to each other and the loving pair appeared in the Hartlepool Mail last summer when they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

The platinum couple said trust, a joint bank account and always walking hand in hand were the three secrets to a long and happy marriage.

Well-known John, 93, the former Mayor of Hartlepool in 1988-89 and Grace, 91, met at The Rink in 1940 and tied the knot three years later at the old Holy Trinity Church, which used to stand on the Headland.

John moved to Hartlepool and worked in the police force before he met Grace, who worked for many years in the laboratories at ICI.

John went on to serve as a councillor in the town for 22 years before being “proud” to become the town’s Mayor.

When asked the key to their happy marriage, John, speaking at the time, said: “Trust is the main thing and always walk hand in hand.”

And he added: “A joint bank account as well.”

The family has confirmed that Mrs MacRae’s funeral will take place at Stranton Grange Crematorium Chapel, in Hartlepool, on Thursday, May 1, at 2.30pm.

As a mark of respect the flag will fly at half-mast at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, on the day of the funeral.