Tributes have been paid to a very well respected member of the Morpeth community, who died on Tuesday following an illness.
Jim Rudd, who turned 80 last month, was involved in a range of town organisations and he was in charge of numerous initiatives over the years.
He was a long-serving Morpeth Borough and Morpeth Town councillor and was part of the group that led the campaign to re-establish the authority after it disappeared in the local government re-organisation of 1974.
Mr Rudd was a nurse for 40 years and part of his career was at Morpeth Cottage Hospital.
He was the lead senior nursing officer at the former Stannington Children’s Hospital when Stobhill resident Derek Thompson ran the school there and they were both in the ‘league of friends’ that worked to provide new facilities for the hospital.
Mr Thompson said: “Jim was a man with a significant presence who was very committed to his work.
“He was a very caring and particularly kind individual who went the extra mile to help the children at the hospital.
“When I moved to Morpeth in the 1990s, he suggested that I put myself forward for the town council and I was able to see for myself how much effort he put in for the good of the town. He didn’t do anything out of self interest.
“He did a lot to help young people and the play equipment, paddling pool and skate park in Carlisle Park, as well as the BMX track on Morpeth Common, are all part of Jim’s legacy.”
Mr Rudd was chairman of the Morpeth Youth Initiative – its projects included the establishment of the Teen Bar in the town centre. This was an alcohol-free venue where young people could hang out and chat.
He was chairman of Morpeth Town Council for six years in total and was an active member of the Labour Party. In his early days as a councillor, one of the Morpeth Young Socialist members who went canvassing with him was Sir Alistair Graham, who went on to be a Trades Union general secretary and chairman of three Government offices.
MP for Wansbeck Ian Lavery said: “Jim was a remarkable and very likeable character, who was well known in Morpeth for his work in the community.
“I have known him for many years and he was well respected across the political spectrum for the way he represented people regardless of their political views. He was a complete gentleman with everyone.”
Mr Rudd played a big part in Morpeth’s bloom entries and maintaining and extending the Christmas lights during his time as a councillor. The other organisations and institutions he was involved in included the CAB, the Old Bakehouse Millennium Green Trust and Morpeth First School in Goosehill.
Kim Bibby-Wilson, Morpeth Antiquarian Society member and Northumbrian Gathering chairman, said: “Jim was a supporter of cultural events in Morpeth and he helped out at the annual fund-raising concert for the Gathering many times.
“A lot of people will be sad to see him go as he was such a big part of the Morpeth community. We’ll soon be thinking about an appropriate lasting memorial because of what he has done for the town.”