A CRICKET club was overflowing today as hundreds of people celebrated the life of a distinguished former player and businessman who died aged 103 after a remarkable innings.

Geoffrey Gillow was described as a “true gentleman” during a poignant but entertaining funeral service at his “spiritual home” of Darlington Cricket Club.

Geoffrey’s name lives on above the menswear fashion shop he opened in the town’s Grange Road in 1966.

His son Bill, who succeeded his father in running the shop, said: “This is a day of celebration because Geoffrey lived for 103 happy years and he would have wanted to be remembered with smiles.

“He was a great dad and we had such special times. He was simply a good, decent, likeable man without a bad bone in his body.”

Cricket had been Geoffrey’s passion and he made his final entrance into the Feethams club to the familiar cricket theme “Soul Limbo” by Booker T and the MG’s. A floral tribute in the form of a cricket bat was laid on top of the coffin.

As well as playing for the first team, Geoffrey captained the second team and, in 1953, he and his friend, John Camburn, shared an opening stand of 233 that stood as a record for decades.

Mourners heard that Geoffrey was born above a shop in Hendon, Sunderland, and played cricket as a teenager for Whitburn. He began his retail career at Blackett’s carpet shop in the city, and remained a lifelong Sunderland Football Club supporter.

He spent the first few years of his life under his Jewish family name of Geoffrey Gallewski before it was changed by deed poll to Gillow.

Humanist Celebrant Beryl Nunn said Geoffrey had become something of a local celebrity after the fact that he was still driving his car at 101 led to an appearance on a national television series called “100 Year Old Driving School”.

She added: “Geoffrey was a man of decency, reliability, and respect. He was a very hard man to dislike and it’s impossible to count how many friends he made in his lifetime. He was unfailingly charming, delightful to be with, and a true gentleman.”

Geoffrey also leaves a daughter, Pamela, and grandchildren Katy, Catherine, Roger and James, who knew him as “Pop”. His beloved wife Minna died aged 91 in 2012.

Roger said: “We were very lucky to have such a fun-loving, warm and brilliant ‘Pop’.”

Following the service at the cricket club, family members said their private goodbyes at Darlington Crematorium.