TRIBUTES have been paid to a dedicated former optician technician who spent almost 70 years in the service he loved.

Howard Bainbridge, a stalwart of Cooper and Leatherbarrow Opticians in Darlington, died on Monday, June 21, aged 83

Howard, an optical technician and practice director of Cooper and Leatherbarrow Opticians in Darlington, had a distinguished career in optics that spanned almost 70 years.

First joining Cooper and Leatherbarrow in 1953 as a 15-year-old apprentice, he spent almost all of his career in the workshop of the practice on Duke Street, hand designing, manufacturing and fixing spectacles.

Howard continued to work at the practice well into his 80s, and only officially called time on his career last October.

Well-known throughout the optical industry, Howard was honoured for his contribution to the profession in 1995 when he was admitted into the Livery of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, through which he was made a Freeman of the City of London.

Howard is survived by Margaret, his wife of 58 years, daughters Sarah and Clare, son-in-law David and grandchildren Hugh and Harry.

Read more: Darlington optician retires after 70 years of service

The Northern Echo:

Cooper and Leatherbarrow’s Managing Director Ellis Leatherbarrow, whose grandfather George first trained Howard in the 1950s, paid tribute.

“We are all devastated by the news of Howard’s passing, and on behalf of Cooper and Leatherbarrow Opticians, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to Margaret, Sarah, Clare and their family," he said.

“Howard was an incredibly popular member of our team and our patients will, I’m sure, remember him as the gentleman that he was.

“To all of us at the practice, Howard was our rock and a massive figure in all of our lives. To me, he was a mentor, business partner and godfather to my daughter but, above all, he was a true friend.

"He was totally dedicated to the profession and you could always rely on him."

A funeral will take place on Friday, July 9.

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