DURING more than a quarter of a century in County Durham's search and rescue team, Stan White turned out hundreds of times to look for missing people.

His sudden death last week was a great loss to the service, both in Durham and around the country, former colleagues said.

Mr White, 57, of Leeholme, near Bishop Auckland, left a wife Lyn and sons Paul and Graeme.

He had been a member of the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Rescue Team for 26 years and served as secretary since 1985. For the past few years he was the team's main driver. He represented them on the North-East Search and Rescue Association and on the national Mountain Rescue Committee.

Ian Findlay, a colleague, said: "I will always remember Stan's wonderful sense of humour, whether it was at a committee meeting, an exercise in bad weather or stressful times on call-out."

Mr White was assistant secretary of the Rolandson Lodge of Freemasons. He had chaired the civilian committee of Bishop Auckland Air Training Corps and played in Spennymoor Town Band for six years.

Brian Wright, organiser of the Mountain Rescue Advanced Casualty Care Course in Carlton, Cleveland, said: "He will be a great loss, not only as a personal friend, but to the whole of Mountain Rescue."

Former team leader Dave Thompson said: "He was and always will be respected by all those who have had the pleasure to work with him."

Mr White worked for Durham County Council's behavioural support service. A service was held on Friday at Durham Crematorium.

"Stan's dedication, hard work and cheerful manner will be missed by the team and all in the Search and Rescue organisation.

The banter was always welcomed but never detracted from the task in hand