Memorial service for Sunderland entrepreneur Sir Tom Cowie

Sir Tom Cowie, photographed for an Echo feature at his home/office at Broadwood Hall near Lanchester.
Sir Tom Cowie, photographed for an Echo feature at his home/office at Broadwood Hall near Lanchester.
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HUNDREDS will gather to pay tribute to Sir Tom Cowie at a special memorial service this week.

The Sunderland entrepreneur, who died in January, aged 89, will be remembered at the gathering in Sunderland Minster.

Professor Peter Fidler, University of Sunderland vice-chancellor, and Sir Robin Buchanan will pay tribute to him during next Thursday’s service.

Sunderland Archdeacon The Venerable Stuart Bain, will also give a biblical reflection on Sir Tom’s life.

Reverend Martin Anderson, of the minster, said: “When Sir Tom died, there was a private family funeral, but this will be a chance for the public to remember the legacy Sir Tom left in the city and wider North East.

“Sunderland was clearly a city that he loved, so it is fitting that the memorial takes place here.”

Former Sunderland AFC legend Jimmy Montgomery, Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson, Tyne and Wear Vice-Lord Lieutenant Fred Holt and County Durham Lord Lieutenant Sir Paul Nicholson are expected to be among those attending.

Voices Together will provide the music and harpist Alina Bzhezhinska will also be performing.

Sir Tom was born in Millfield. He left school at 15 and went on to work in his father’s motorcycle repair shop, from where he started to build his empire.

He started to sell the bikes and went on to transform the family business into one of Britain’s biggest transport names.

Today, Arriva employs 47,500 people across 12 European countries.

The lifelong Sunderland fan joined SAFC’s board in 1978 and took over as chairman in June 1980, a role he kept until 1986 when he was succeeded by Bob Murray.

In 1982, Sir Tom was awarded the OBE and was knighted in 1992.

The University of Sunderland named a lecture theatre after him at its St Peter’s Campus.

He retired from his business in 1993, at the age of 70, though he remained honorary president and retained an interest in the group’s expansion across the continent.

The service will take place on Thursday at 2pm.

Twitter: @sunechochief