FORMER prime minister Tony Blair has backed an appeal for a memorial window at a North-East church to mark the tireless dedication of a much-loved organist.

Members of the Parochial Council of St Mary Magdalene Church at Trimdon Village, near Sedgefield, County Durham, hope to raise £12,000 to install a stained glass window in honour of Lily Burton.

Mrs Burton, the wife of Mr Blair's constituency agent John Burton, worshipped at the church for more than 50 years, serving as organist, flower arranger and church councillor.

Following her death from cancer in November 2011 at the age of 71, Mr Blair described Mrs Burton as "one of the kindest and nicest human beings" he had ever met.

And, in a further mark of respect, the former Sedgefield MP and his wife Cherie have offered to double the total amount raised for the window.

"Lily was a very special person and dear friend and Cherie and I are delighted to support the appeal," said Mr Blair.

Mr and Mrs Burton married at St Mary Magdalene Church in 1963 and the couple christened both of their children there.

"I think it is a wonderful idea," said Mr Burton. "Lily dedicated her life to the church and served as organist here for 30 years.

"Lily never liked a fuss but I think she would be secretly pleased."

Renowned stained glass artist Bridget Jones will be commissioned to design the window, which will be based on Magnificat - the song of Mary - an ancient hymn that celebrates the Virgin Mary.

The window, which will hopefully be installed in November on the second anniversary of Mrs Burton's death, will also incorporate flowers to symbolise her love of flower arranging.

All donations, big and small, are welcomed, with any extra funds to be put towards a memorial plaque and the future up keep of the church.

Church councillor Adam Luke, 18, first met Mrs Burton when he started Sunday school at the age of three and the pair became very close.

"It goes further than a lasting legacy to a special lady," he said. "It is about continuing her good work."

Cheques, made payable to St Mary Magdalene Parochial Church Council, can be sent to The Lily Burton Memorial Appeal, 10 Front Street North, Trimdon Village, County Durham, TS29 6PF.