A MUSIC foundation has been launched in memory of a “a true visionary” whose legacy will benefit the North-East for generations.

The foundation was announced at the climax of a memorial service in honour of Roger Kelly, who was awarded the OBE in 2013.

The Roger Kelly Music Foundation was described as the perfect way to remember a passionate music-lover who helped drive a number of key developments, including the Angel of the North, Sage Gateshead, Millennium Bridge, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, and the rebirth of Ushaw College as a cultural centre.

Mr Kelly, who died in April after a sudden illness, joined the historic former Catholic seminary, on the outskirts of Durham, as volunteer Director of Development in 2014, having stepped down as Chief Executive of Gateshead Council.

Mr Kelly, an accomplished pianist and organist, had grown to love Ushaw as conductor of Crook and Weardale Choral Society.

Members of his beloved choir performed during the memorial service, led by Ushaw president Monsignor John Marsland, in Ushaw’s St Cuthbert’s Chapel.

The chapel was packed with civic leaders, academics, senior clergymen, family members and friends, including athletics legend Brendan Foster. The Great North Run founder said: “Roger was a first-class man in every sense, and a delightful human being, who did great things for our region.”

The Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon, told the congregation: “Roger will be remembered as a man of vision, who contributed so much to our region – a man of intense honour and integrity.”

Former Gateshead Borough Council leader, Mick Henry CBE, said: “Roger’s impact on the North-East was massive. He was one of the nicest people to work with, and one of the most effective. We have lost a true champion, but his legacy will live on for generations.”

Durham County Council chief executive Terry Collins added: “Roger was an outstanding person who achieved great things, and we will do whatever we can to carry on his legacy by supporting the ongoing development of Ushaw.”

Ushaw’s commercial manager Jonathan Ward announced that the Roger Kelly Music Foundation would “enable others to begin, develop and continue their enjoyment of music here at Ushaw”.

Under Mr Kelly’s guidance, Ushaw became home to the Durham Music Service and houses around 10,000 instruments. His foundation will offer financial support to those wanting to develop musically but do not have the means to do so. It will also aim to restore instruments and open up spaces for performances.

“It will be a living, musical legacy that will go on and on in Roger’s name,” said Mr Ward.

  • To support the Roger Kelly Music Foundation, visit ushaw.org and follow the link to the Justgiving page.
  • To donate £5 text ROGERKELLY 5 to 70470. Alternatively, you can opt to give any whole amount up to £20.
  • To donate £5 a month, text ROGERKELLY 5 to 70480. Alternatively, you can opt to give any whole amount up to £20 per month.