A FORMER arts figurehead is being mourned after he died of cancer at the age of 69.

Peter Lofthouse was chairman of the Darlington Society of Arts (DSA) until retiring from the post in March after four years due to his ill health.

He was architect of the Dover Prize art competition, as well as having been a member of the Studio art group, which is also based in Darlington.

Mr Lofthouse was an engineer by trade. He died last Wednesday

He took over the chairmanship from his friend Peter Nutting in 1996.

Mr Nutting said: "Not only is is a sad personal loss, but it's a loss to the arts world of Darlington."

Present DSA chairman Lynda Docherty said: "Most members have also lost a friend who was warm and generous in his encouragement and support."

Mr Lofthouse, who hails from Teesside, but lived in Hurworth, left a wife, Win, and two daughters, Claire and Sally.

A service takes place at Darlington Crematorium, today, at 9.15am. Donations are requested to the Macmillan nurses, c/o Seaton Leng and Son, Bondgate, Darlington.