A LONG-SERVING railwayman, who discovered a talent for writing in his 70s, has died at the age of 93.

Tom Bellis lived in Shildon, County Durham, all of his life until he moved to Teesside six weeks before his death to be closer to his family.

He worked at the town's railway works for 45 years, but only began to believe in his literary ability after the death of his wife, Edith, in 1984, two weeks before they were due to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.

He enjoyed seeing 13 novels in print and made time to help other local authors with their work.

A devout Christian, he was a regular contributor to The Northern Echo's Monday Poem page and had verses read out on Tyne Tees Television.

Mr Bellis leaves a daughter and son-in-law Maureen and George Kipling, and their children Paul and Gillian, at Eaglescliffe, and son Geoffrey at York, wife Brenda, and their daughters Angela, Fiona and Suzanne.

A funeral service was held at Darlington Crematorium on Friday.