THE former manager of a North-East shopping centre has died at the age of 80 following a short illness.

John Clift, ex-manager of the Castlegate Shopping Centre on Stockton's high Street, was a well known and respected figure in the town's business circles.

He managed the 350,000 sq ft centre for nearly 40 years, from its inception in 1972 to his late retirement in 2011. He was due to retire earlier but the centre's owners asked him to stay on to oversee the revamp of the indoor market.

Mr Clift was a church warden at St George's Church in Stanley and an avid cricket fan, especially of Durham cricket club which he watched both home and away.

He lived in Stanley all his life apart from two years at RAF Malta on national service.

He is survived by wife Margaret and son Guy.