Tribute to a former magistrate

Roger Smith playing a concert in aid of the RNLI
Roger Smith playing a concert in aid of the RNLI

TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular former magistrate who dedicated his life to helping others.

Roger Smith died at his home, in Melrose Street, in Hartlepool, on August 8.

He had suffered a heart complaint and battled health problems after he was knocked down by a motorbike and robbed while on holiday in Benidorm, in Spain, five years ago.

The 64-year-old served as a magistrate in Hartlepool from 2001 to 2008, but had to stand down due to his ill-health.

Mr Smith, who played the piano at local venues and at charity concerts, had also been a taxi driver and worked as a contractor with the town’s 23 Taxis.

In his earlier working life, he had been the head of various children’s homes all over the country.

Mr Smith’s brother-in-law Maurice Wright, 78, from Thames Road in Billingham, said: “He had three loves in life – children, driving and playing the piano.”

Mr Smith was born in Hartlepool to parents Beatrice and Tom and had four sisters, Vivienne, Maurice’s wife, and the late Olga, Doris and Ann.

He attended Elwick Road Infants School and Hartlepool Grammar School for Boys before working in a greengrocer’s and as a driver, after which he got a job at the Farndale Children’s Home in Middlesbrough, where he qualified in residential care in 1973.

He then took a job as deputy head of a children’s home in Sutton, in Surrey, where he was later made headteacher.

He also worked at children’s homes in Leeds and Islington before returning to Hartlepool in the mid-1980s.

Mr Smith got a job driving for Richardson’s Coaches and also became involved in the taxi business, working for Cameron’s Taxis.

He drove a taxi and bought a second cab, employing a driver to work for him.

He became a magistrate in 2001 and served on the bench for seven years before resigning due to his health problems.

Mr Smith played piano in a three-piece band at local venues, including Hartlepool United Supporters’ Club, in Sandringham Road, as well as elderly care homes.

Through his music, he raised money for various charities including the RNLI.

Trevor Allen, 70, who had known Mr Smith for 10 years, said: “He was known by a lot of people and did a lot for younger people when he was a magistrate.

“When he worked in children’s homes, he used to help them channel their aggression through learning music.”

Mr Smith’s funeral took place at Stranton Crematorium on Thursday.

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