TRIBUTES have been paid to an “unsung hero” of a North-East community who has died from Covid-19.

Peter Ratcliffe, a tireless fundraiser and event organiser in Darlington, had underlying health conditions, and passed away the day before his 79th birthday.

Peter’s community activities included supporting the Darlington branch of the Royal British Legion and being a member of the Northern Military Music Group, helping to organise a host of music events for military charities, including Proms in the Park.

He voluntarily helped families to track down loved ones’ war graves, served as a volunteer visitor in Deerbolt Prison, at Barnard Castle, and was a governor at Hurworth Primary School.

His daughter, Carol Jackson, said: “He was a humble man, who never went looking for thanks, but was always there to do whatever was needed for the good of the town he loved.”

Peter, who was born in Neasham Road, Darlington, was also devoted to his granddaughter, Danielle – Carol’s daughter. His late brother, Joe, was a well-known local bus driver.

Peter became the only Darlington non-Rotarian to receive a Rotary International Paul Harris Award, in honour of his 30 years of service in helping to prepare the route of the Darlington 10k road race. 

He was also recently invited to become a Town Ambassador due to his outstanding community work. 

Peter served his time as a mechanic at John Neasham Motors, in Darlington, before moving into car sales and progressing to Truck Sales Manager.

In the late 1970s, he became Transport Manager for a Stockton-based company, W.D. Mark, before becoming Transport Manager for Farmway Darlington in the mid-1980s. Between 2006 and the end of 2017, he worked as Office Manager for Davies Transport before retiring due to ill-health.

Former Farmway director Alan Charlton, who worked alongside Peter on many community events, said: “He was a kind, tireless man with a great passion for his family and the work he did in the community. Small in stature but huge in determination to succeed in everything he undertook. One of Darlington unsung heroes, his presence will be missed by many.”

John Smith, Chairman of the Darlington branch of the Royal British Legion, described Mr Ratcliffe as “a great asset”, known for his positivity and sense of humour.  
Darlington Borough Council leader, Councillor Heather Scott, said: “Peter was an incredible support to numerous charities and was always in attendance at any events for the armed services.

“I have known Peter for longer than I care to remember, and he will be missed by everyone.”

Jonathan Davies, owner of Davies Transport, said: “Peter had a wealth of knowledge and always seemed to know the right way to deal with people in business and in personal matters.

“He was very capable and adaptable, with a great wit. I thought of him very much as a father figure, keeping me calm when things inevitably went wrong and guiding me in the right direction.”

Alasdair MacConachie, former Vice Lieutenant of County Durham, added: “Peter devoted an awful lot of his own time to special events. He was a very well respected and likeable character and will be missed by us all.”

Peter’s funeral takes place at St Cuthbert’s Church, in Darlington, at noon on Thursday, August 26. There will be a collection in aid of The Royal British Legion, with mourners invited to Darlington Hippodrome after the service.