HUNDREDS of people came to a North-East town for the funeral of a devoted grandfather described as a ‘film star of the gypsy community’.

Tommy ‘Tucker’ Lee, of Darlington, died on Sunday (January 20) after a long illness. He was 59.

His family, friends and members of the gypsy and travelling communities came from all over the country to attend his funeral at the Light and Life Mission, in Parkgate.

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Community leader Billy Welch, who was Mr Lee’s second cousin, described him as “very well-liked and respected”.

Mr Welch said: “He was a kind-hearted and generous man, who was the life and soul of every single wedding and party he ever went to.

“He was a good-looking fella, a naturally funny, with a great singing voice and film-star looks.

“People were drawn to him, his funeral was a perfect example of how well-loved he was.

“They could not fit everybody in the church, people had to stand outside listening on speakers.

“He has left a very big empty space in everybody’s lives and a massive gap in our community.

“I do not know anybody who has a bad word to say about him.”

At the funeral, moving readings were given by two of Mr Lee’s life-long friends, John Howard and Johnny Ward.

Mr Welch said Mr Lee was proud of his roots as a Romany gypsy.

Following the service, Mr Lee was buried in Darlington’s West Cemetery.

Mr Welch added: “Among the gypsy and travelling communities, he was a big star, who will shine forever in our hearts.”