A HERITAGE group is mourning the loss of two stalwart members.

Bishop Auckland Civic Society chairman Bob McManners said Marion Blackett and Dorothy Davison were both special ladies, who served the committee for more than 20 years and the community for much longer.

"They both have been great servants of the town, whose activities have greatly influenced many lives for the better and deserve recognition," he said.

Society’s vice chairman and membership secretary Miss Blackett died unexpectedly on May 30.

Born in Bishop Auckland, she attended the Girl’s Grammar School from the age of eleven and transferred to the Boy’s School to study science at sixth form. She gained a degree in botany and zoology at Newcastle University and taught human biology to student nurses at Bishop Auckland Technical College.

When Auckland Castle opened to the public in the 1980s, Miss Blackett was a founder member of the Friends of Auckland Castle and a guide until it closed for renovations in 2017 when she joined the volunteer team at the Mining Art Gallery.

She was a member of Bishop Auckland U3A and on the civic society's committee since its inception in the early 1990s and attended St Peter’s Church then St Paul’s, in Witton Park.

Dr McManners said: "Her selfless commitment to improving her town and the lives of others will long be remembered. It was exemplified on the day she died, at the age of 86, in Darlington Memorial Hospital when the senior nursing sister came into the room to say ‘Don’t tell me this is the Miss Blackett who taught me in the 80s’ – of course it was."

Mrs Davison died on June 9 at Eden House nursing home.

A long-time resident of Bishop Auckland, where her parents had owned pubs including The Bay Horse, she married Darlington footballer Joe in 1952 and had sons Tony and Geoff.

She worked for the Church of England’s Council for Social Work, The Children’s Society and for a while ran a sandwich business.

As a volunteer she helped start a home sitting service which was fundamental to the creation of St Teresa’s Hospice, in Darlington, supported Marie Curie Cancer Care, was an energetic member of Bishop Auckland Civic Society from its inception– on the committee for many years and an extremely successful speaker organiser– and an inaugural Friend of Auckland Castle. She became secretary of the housing committee for King’s Lodge flats where she lived in the town. A committed Christian, Dorothy lived life to the full, enjoying dancing, cooking and needlecraft.

Dr McManners said: "Both Marion and Dorothy freely gave of their time and expertise in the help of others and the promotion of Bishop Auckland. Both will be missed, not only by Bishop Auckland Civic Society, but also by all who knew them because both were deeply respected members of the community they served and the town they loved."