Tributes to village stalwart

Jack Harrison
Jack Harrison

TRIBUTES have been paid to a “passionate and honourable” village stalwart who died earlier this month.

John Harrison, known as Jack, died at his home in Elwick Village on Thursday, January 12, aged 76.

Jack’s “greatest passion” was Elwick Village, and he served on the parish council for more than 48 years.

The businessman also built a formidable local reputation for fixing all things mechanical and was the proud owner of a number of impressive vintage vehicles.

His daughter, Victoria, 44, said: “My dad was a driving force, always ready to give any problem his full attention. He was unassuming, passionate and honourable.

“He will be missed dreadfully.”

Victoria, a classically-trainer singer who lives in Billingham, added: “There was nothing my dad loved more than sorting out a troublesome engine or judging at a local ploughing match.

“He had a great love of the countryside and the people in it, but his greatest passion was for Elwick Village itself.

“With the help of friends and colleagues over the years, they helped shape the village into the smart, leafy community everyone knows.”

As a young man, Jack’s passion was motorcycle scrambling, trials and sand-racing on bikes that are now classics.

He met his wife, Margaret, at Cotsfold Close Farm, in Elwick, and the loving couple married at St Peter’s Church, in the village on September 30, 1961.

Together they ran a busy engineering workshop in the village for 42 years until they both retired.

They also exhibited a number of vintage tractors and wagons including a Ford D800 Series Wagon, a Fordson Super Dexta and Fordson Super Major, which impressed judges and won champion in show at a number of rallies.

Margaret sadly died four years ago, aged 68.

Jack didn’t spend his retirement with his feet up, he carried on his endless work in the village he loved.

With the help of community groups and friends and neighbours, including Fred Claughan and Ron Coleman, he built the extension to the WI Hall and restored the bus shelter to its former glory.

He repaired fences and bridges, could regularly be seen clearing the beck and picked litter and weeds.

Jack campaigned and negotiated for the village to have a piece of land for a playing field, then levelled it, drained it and raised funds for playground equipment.

He then made a trip to the playground every day to check it was safe.

Elwick resident Jack Smurthwaite, a close friend of Jack’s who worked closely with him on a number of projects in the village, said: “I have lost a good friend and Elwick Village has lost a very good man.

“He was an endless worker and was very well-liked, especially with the older residents in the community.”

Chris Banks, the current chairman of Elwick Parish Council, said: “The village has lost one of its stalwarts in Jack.

“He has always had the interests of Elwick at heart and even after he retired from the council, he could still be seen working in the village.

“He will be remembered for many of the recent developments in the village and served the local community for many years.

“It will be a poorer place without him.”

Jack’s funeral was held at St Peter’s Church last Friday, January 20.

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