HUNDREDS of people turned out to pay their last respects to the longest-serving member of the Durham mayor’s ceremonial bodyguard.

Colleagues of Francis “Frankie” Grant dressed in their full regalia, and along with members of the Durham Light Infantry Association, provided a guard of honour as his coffin was carried into the city’s packed St Giles’ Church.

The 92-year-old, from Gilesgate was also seen off by members of Durham City Rugby Football Club, where he was the longest-serving member, along with several former mayors of the city.

Durham’s mayoral bodyguard’s secretary and treasurer Bob Clarkson said: “Frankie was a member for 27 years.

“Last year he was finding it a bit of a struggle, as he couldn’t march or stand as long as we have to and he did not want to give it up.

“We accepted his resignation, but made him an honorary member and that way he would be entitled turn out in his full regalia.

“He was a true gentleman and was always telling stories. He was very popular member."

Rugby cub president Richard Wilkinson said: “Frank was our oldest member – a distinction he quietly revelled in.

“Alas it didn’t last long. He was a lovely gentle Durham man and lifelong bachelor.

“His association with the club began after the Second World War and continued right to the end as a social member.

“For many years he was the commander of the baths where his legendary teabags served generations of players post-match. His devotion new no bounds. He will be sadly missed.”

Mr Grant was granted honorary life membership of the club in 1995 in recognition of his efforts over the years.

Mr Wilkinson added, he was buried in his Durham rugby club club tracksuit, as he had wished.

His nephew Harry Grant said: “He was good to my grandkids. He loved children and also looked after his mother. He was a great guy.

“I was choked up at the turnout that he had.”

Mr Grant was born in Walkergate, and became an apprentice at Hugh MacKay’s Carpets at the age of 14. At the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the Royal Navy briefly, before enlisting with the Durham Light Infantry.

He was transferred to the 8th Battalion of the Royal Scots Guards, fighting as part of the Desert Rats and taking part in the D-Day landings in Normandy and fighting to Germany, crossing the Elbe and Rhine rivers.

After the war he returned to MacKay Carpets, before going on to work at the National Savings until his retirement.