Family pays tribute to a special father

Des McLaughlin
Des McLaughlin

TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular Morpeth man who died of cancer last week.

Des McLaughlin was well known in the community, particularly as a former President of Morpeth Bowling Club where he tirelessly campaigned for improvements to its facilities and for his work at St Robert’s Church in Oldgate.

The 72-year-old spent nearly 40 years as a railway worker, which included a stint as Section Manager looking after the railway track from Berwick to Newcastle.

He moved to Morpeth in 1953 and soon met the love of his life Marianne. The couple got married in 1963 and had three daughters – Christine Dryden, Sharon Adams and Kathleen Payne.

Mrs Adams said: “My dad would do anything for anybody and if you walked down the street with him it would take forever because so many people wanted to have a chat with him and vice- versa.

“He put his heart and soul into everything he did, including his volunteer work at St Robert’s and for the St Vincent de Paul charitable organisation that helped many people.

“In his job he was very determined to get things done and he persevered until he or someone else got it right. Times were not always easy, but Des was a great support to everyone who worked with him.

“He was a pillar of the community and shared many memories of the 1963 Morpeth floods when he had to carry the old lady next door from the house and ride around in a dinghy.

“His main passion was the bowling club and as the President he was on a mission to gets things sorted such as new fencing, benches and an irrigation system.

“He organised the annual club tour to Scotland and this year’s will be a memorial to Des.”

Mr McLaughlin was diagnosed with cancer in late 2010 and at this time last year he had his stomach removed.

Although he recovered enough to go on holiday in the summer, he took ill just before Christmas and died on January 25. He also leaves five grandchildren.

Mrs Adams said: “We’re extremely grateful to everyone who looked after my dad when he was ill, including the staff at the RVI and Bobby Robson Centre, the district and Macmillan nurses and Dr Ridley from Greystoke Surgery who came along to see him at least once a day.

“Religion was such a special part of his life and it was his belief that helped him to accept his illness and gave him strength in the last few weeks.”

Mr McLaughlin helped secure £12,000 for fencing, £2,000 for surfacing and £10,000 for toilet improvements from the former Castle Morpeth Council’s Community Fund Panel. An additional £12,000 came from SITA for a new watering system and £3,500 was provided by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for heaters.

Coun Glen Sanderson, who was chairman of the Community Fund Panel when the award was made, said: “Des wanted to bring the grounds and pavilion up to a standard that was worthy of the club.

“He fought tirelessly for the members and it gave me great pleasure when we were able to provide the club with significant funds.

“He was an absolute gentleman and will be greatly missed by all those who knew him.”

Mr McLaughlin’s funeral service was held in a packed St Robert’s Church yesterday, followed by his burial at Fairmoor Cemetery.