Mourners bid farewell to rugby stalwart

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George Carr, who served as president of Hexham House Bowls Club, died after a long illness.
George Carr, who served as president of Hexham House Bowls Club, died after a long illness.

SUCH was the turn-out at the funeral of a well-known local sportsman that mourners couldn’t fit into the church.

Hundreds of people packed out St Helen’s Church, in Whitley Chapel, to pay their respects to George Carr (81), who died recently after an 18 month illness suffering from Lewy Body Dementia.

George had a legion of friends across the North-East through his involvement in many sports, particularly rugby, and through his long career with the Dutton Forshaw Motor Group, where he served as managing director.

Born in Scotland but growing up in Monkseaton, George moved to Hexhamshire 17 years ago with wife Brenda, and the family instantly became a big part of the community.

He was perhaps best known in these parts as a member of Hexham House Bowls Club, serving as its president for two years.

While living in the district, more latterly in Hexham, George became heavily involved with Hexham Golf Club and Hexhamshire Leek Club.

His widow Brenda said: “When we moved into the Hexham area, it was a big change for us but, when you are sporty, you can fit into a community very easily.

“He loved playing at Hexham House and became president, and it was only in the last 18 months that illness prevented him from taking part.

“He was a member of the leek club too but the only year he won the club championship was during foot and mouth, so he didn’t win any prize money because there were no social events!”

George was better known across the North-East for his involvement in rugby.

He started out at Whitley Bay club Rockcliff where he worked his way up to captain, leading the team to its one and only Northumberland Senior Cup final.

During his time there he was selected for the county squad, but found his chances limited by fellow prop Ray MacLoughlin, who earned 40 caps for Ireland!

Work with Murray and Charlton, which later became Dutton Forshaw, took George to Middlesbrough, where he joined the local team and lined up against future England stars Alan Old and Phil Horrocks-Taylor.

On returning to the North-East, the family became involved with Percy Park Rugby Club in Tynemouth, where George’s sons, Ian and Mark, started playing mini rugby.

From there, he became a key figure in developing youth rugby and then club president.

He was also the main driving force behind the creation of a new club house, which still stands today.

His involvement in the sport saw him chosen as a selector for the Northumberland squad, and he made many ties with Tynedale Rugby Club through that role.

The love of rugby passed down through the family, with sons Ian, Mark and Graham all playing at a high level, as well as daughter, Gemma, who the family say was the better player among the siblings!

Two of George’s seven grandchildren have also been bitten by the bug and play too.

Brenda said: “George had a wonderful sense of humour; he played hard but worked hard too. He lived a great life for 80 years before his illness made the last 18 months not so great.

“He did so much in his time and the church was full to capacity with friends from all sorts of backgrounds, and that was lovely to see.

“He really was a larger than life character. We used to go out and have a lot of fun, but he was always having to send flowers to his friends’ wives to apologise for his behaviour!

“It was all good natured, of course. But I never got flowers!”

david.coulter@hexham-courant.co.uk

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