TRIBUTES have been paid to a ‘vibrant character’ after his passing on February 12 at Wellburn House.

Marcus Gatenby, latterly of Ovingham, was born in Portsmouth in 1925, where he attended a local elementary school until aged 14-years-old. Sadly, his mother had passed away when he was just seven-years old; he had a sister nine years his senior. When he reached his 14th birthday, his father bought him a suit so he could go out into the world of work.

Marcus’s first job was with an estate agents in Portsmouth, where he also joined the Sea Scouts. He worked at the company for three years until he joined the Royal Navy in January, 1942. His first posting was to HMS Royal Arthur, based in the then Butlins Camp, in Skegness, where he spent six months in training, learning about wireless communications and visual signals. Marcus served in a trawler, converted to a minesweeper, and also found himself involved in the D-Day landings – eventually being de-mobbed in Devonport.

Back on civvy street, Marcus turned his hand to sales, selling clothing for two months before joining WH Smiths, where he worked for seven years.

He later received a job offer from Maxwells, in Byker, which would see him relocate to his much-loved North-East, where he would meet his wife Sarah. He also enjoyed a spell at Blaylocks Department Store, in Newcastle, where he managed the tailoring department, and his skill also saw him approached by a Mr Parrish, who had shop on the Shields Road.

But the posts were shortlived, for Mr Rowcastle, owner of Appleby’s, in Prudhoe, which was the town’s department store for 100 years, was in need of a manager. Marcus took on the role in 1969 aged 44 and stayed on until 1987, when the shop was sold, during which time he represented the company across the country. The original Appleby shop was destroyed by fire with the local council paying for the rebuild, but it later closed with the rise of the Metro Centre and out-of-town shopping.

When Marcus retired, he and Sarah, who has also died, followed their passion for dogs and found themselves showing their pets – even winning a rosette for one of them at Crufts. Marcus was also membership secretary of the Prudhoe and District Local History Society, the oldest member of Prudhoe and District U3A, whose members paid tribute in a group newsletter, the Prudhoe over-50s group and Stocksfield Mens Club. He was also a keen amateur photographer.

“He was always so positive, bright and with a zest for life that was an inspiration,” said friend Yvonne Ritchie. “His planned cruise down the Norwegian Fjords for 2020 didn’t happen, so if anyone does that trip in the future, maybe say hello from Marcus.”

Councillor Gordon Stewart also paid tribute, adding: “Marcus was a true gentleman in every way. He led a full and varied life and loved this area so much. He will be missed by so many people.”