A COMMUNITY has lined the streets to honour a much-loved family man as he was laid to rest.

People clapped as the hearse carrying Stephen Eccles passed from his home in Leadgate and through Consett, where he worked.

The father-of-16 was known as the ‘singing taxi driver’ and would entertain his passengers with songs and quizzes.

He died earlier this month aged 52 following a two-year battle with a brain tumour.

The Northern Echo:

Stephen with his son Benjamin

Stephen was buried in Seven Penny Meadows, in Medomsley,on Monday afternoon in a plot next to his mother-in-law.

The service was led by Captain Amanda Smethurst, from Leadgate Salvation Army.

She said: “He was such a loved guy, and because there is a limit on people at the funeral, it was suggested that if people wanted to show their appreciation, complying entirely with the rules that Government has given, they could stand on the side of the route as they go past.

“They took a longer route and went past things that mattered to him, like the taxi rank.”

The Northern Echo:

People lined the streets to pay their respects

Stephen, who was married to Helen for 27 years, also had two grandchildren.

He worked as taxi driver for over two decades and was also known for dressing up and his enthusiasm for Christmas.

People lined the streets because social distancing requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic mean the funeral service was restricted to close family members only.

The hearse was followed by a long line of taxis driven by his colleagues.

Captain Smethurt said: “It was a lovely idea. I am hoping that this has been a real blessing for Helen and the family because it is a tricky one this.

“It is difficult when you have lost someone you love particularly in a situation like this.

“It is normally a time for people to remember and to come together so I hope this has given her some comfort.”