AN UNDERTAKER who had the whole of his home town in his heart has died.

John Watson (80) was well-known around his beloved Haltwhistle as an undertaker and a councillor, and as somebody who was always looking at ways to improve the town.

Mr Watson grew up living in Scotsfield Terrace and, after a decade away from the street elsewhere in the town, he moved back to the street in 1975 with his wife Pam.

They had three children - son Andrew and daughters Sharon and Joanne - who provided them with five grandchildren.

Mr Watson's ancestors built half of Haltwhistle as monumental sculptors and builders, and he was to continue the family tradition - but not until he worked as a window cleaner in the town first.

But Mr Watson decided on a career change in the early 1980s when he started his own undertaking business, Haltwhistle and District Funeral and Burial Service.

He had no prior training or background in the industry, but thought he would give it a go as there was only one other funeral directors in the town at the time, according to his widow Pam.

It turned into a real passion for Mr Watson, who remained in the trade until he suffered two brain haemorrhages in 2009.

Mr Watson served the town in many other capacities, most notably as a councillor for decades.

His work as a district councillor for the town coincided with his role on Haltwhistle Town Council, of which he remained a dedicated member until recently.

Mrs Watson said he had a drive to improve his home town, and he always tried to dream up ways of bringing more tourists to west Northumberland.

Mr Watson brought media attention to the town when he came up with the idea of creating a cable car scheme to carry visitors from Haltwhistle up to Hadrian's Wall.

"We went down to Derbyshire to the Heights of Abraham to check out the cable car there, and John was always trying to think of ways to make money for Haltwhistle," said Mrs Watson.