ARNOLD Sanderson was a man admired far and wide– by residents in his County Durham home town to families thousands of miles away in Nepal.

A proud family man, passionate about his community and with a huge respect for the military, Mr Sanderson led Remembrance services in Spennymoor for more than two decades.

He also raised more than £50,000 for a charity supporting Gurkha veterans and their dependents.

Born and raised in Spennymoor, Mr Sanderson trained as a joiner after school.

He was conscripted into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and saw active service in Egypt where he was one of the few conscripted soldiers to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

In 1961 he set up his own building business and with wife Elsie had two daughters, Ann MacLachlan and Judith Richardson, and three grandchildren whom he adored.

Mr Sanderson's first wife passed away in 1983 and he later shared 32 years of marriage with second wife Margaret.

His respect for the Armed Forces never left him.

For 22 years, Mr Sanderson was the parade marshal for Spennymoor's Armistice Parade and he introduced an annual drumhead service, representing worship out in the field, to the town.

After he retired from building, he began handcrafting walking sticks and shepherd’s crooks which he sold at Richmond Market Hall.

A chance meeting there with a Gurkha officer led to an incredible bond with the Gurkhas.

In 2006 he was asked by good friend Sergeant Major Jai Dura Gurung to help raise money to rebuild a school in Nepal and, with his help, it was completed within three years.

He continued to fundraise tirelessly for The Gurkha Welfare Trust to support veterans and their widows in the hills of Nepal.

Al Howard, director of The Gurkha Welfare Trust, said: "The amount Arnold raised for the Trust is truly exceptional. His legacy lives on in Nepal where, thanks to him, children in Lamjung have access to an education in the school he helped build.

"Everyone here at the Trust extends their sincere condolences to Arnold's friends and family."

Mr Sanderson also made sticks with REME and Royal Gurkha Rifle badges on which were often used in presentations. One was presented to Prince Philip, Colonel in Chief (REME), and another was gifted by the Gurkhas to Prince Charles, as their Colonel in Chief, on his birthday.

Each year, he was a special guest at the Gurkha Musical Concert in Darlington and the Gurkha Graduation Parade at Catterick Garrison.

Friend Piper Dick Malt described Mr Sanderson as an avid family man, a keen and talented craftsman, a generous supporter of his community and the Trust and said he was always an impeccably turned out gentleman.

He said: "For those not knowing Arnold, it took only a few moments within his company to identify he was one of life's good people, able to communicate with ease at any level and always eager to assist others."

Spennymoor Mayor Councillor Clive Maddison said: "Along with my colleagues and the staff at the town council, I was extremely upset and saddened to hear that Arnold Sanderson had passed away. Arnold was the consummate gentleman and was always a pleasure to speak with and the staff at the Town Hall loved working with him. He was a stalwart of the town and he will be greatly missed by one and all. He had a passion and zest for life that few could match. Even as his health deteriorated he didn’t want any fuss and wanted to soldier on and especially ensure that last year, the centenary of the end of WWI, saw the biggest and best attended Remembrance Service and Parade Spennymoor has seen. He did the town proud for over 20 years as parade marshal. More recently he was working alongside the new parade marshal, Peter Gray, whom he trained, to set up the first Armed Forces Day event in the town later this year. There will be a fitting tribute to Arnold at this event, and indeed at the Remembrance Service. Our deepest condolences are sent to his family and friends, of whom there are many."

Mr Sanderson passed away in hospital in Durham on Friday, March 22, aged 87, following a short illness.

His funeral will be at St Paul's Church, Spennymoor, at 1.15pm on Friday, April 5.