IT is no surprise that there was a lovely turnout for Pete the Sweep’s funeral yesterday as mourners walked into church beneath a guard of honour made of brushes.

Peter Woodmansey was a true Darlington character who became known over the decades to so many people in the town.

He was a street cleaner, for 35 years in the council’s employment and for the next 20 just doing it as a public service. He cared that things looked right and he took it upon himself to make sure that they did.

It was his way of getting out of the house, doing something useful and engaging with other people. Whereas most of us are so wrapped up in our own little worlds, that we fly through the streets without thinking, Pete always had a moment for a word and a chat.

Our communities need people who don’t just sit their moaning, but who get out and do things to make life a little better for others, who take pride in the surroundings that we all share.

Our communities also need people who are characters, who are a little quirky, like Pete in his red, white and blue. They add colour to our lives.

We are currently witnessing a battle to be Prime Minister in which the main protagonists dissemble, backtrack, flipflop and u-turn. Although he liked to be acknowledged, Pete had no such aspirations. He was humble and grounded, the salt of the earth. Darlington will miss him.