Labour leader Ed Miliband leads tributes to Middlesbrough MP Sir Stuart Bell (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Labour leader Ed Miliband leads tributes to Middlesbrough MP Sir Stuart Bell
LABOUR leader Ed Miliband led tributes at the funeral of Sir Stuart Bell, saying he was a Labour man "to the core".
Sir Stuart, 74, who had served as MP for Middlesbrough from 1983, died earlier this month at his Linthorpe home, following a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
The funeral was held at St Barnabas' Church in Linthorpe and was attended by many of his parliamentary colleagues as well as friends, family and representatives from the local community.
Mr Miliband said: “(Sir Stuart) won immense respect in the House of Commons over the course of nearly 30 years for his eloquence, intelligence, decency and love of parliament.
"His memory will never die and his flame will live on.”
Speaking before the funeral, Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “It is a very sad day for Stuart’s family and for the whole community.
"I am here to pay my respects to someone I think of as one of the longest-serving fathers of the House.”
Middlesbrough mayor, Ray Mallon, also paid tribute to Sir Stuart, saying he had done a great deal for the town over three decades.
“Professionally, I had what I would describe as a perfect relationship with him," he said. "From the day I became elected mayor until the day of his death, he supported me through thick and thin, as I did him.
"I do believe the best of Stuart Bell will be shared with the public over the coming months as he did many things under the radar that will soon become apparent.”
Mr Mallon also spoke at the service, along with Sir Stuart's son, Malcolm, and Middlesbrough Football Club chairman Steve Gibson, who recited the poem ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’ and praised Sir Stuart's work in saving the club and helping to establish the Riverside Stadium.
He added: “Stuart was as good as it gets as an MP. He was also my friend and I will miss him.”
Sir Stuart's son, Malcolm, said his father was a family man who was always smiling.
“He is smiling in every photo and that was his nature, he was a positive person and was all about moving forward, not backwards," he said. "He had no time for regrets.”
The Northern Echo attended the funeral with the permission of Sir Stuart's family.