TRIBUTES have been paid to a charity leader who helped spearhead a campaign to bring the Lindisfarne Gospels back to the region.
John Danby, 74, died at his home in Rickleton. He was diagnosed with cancer early in 2011.
The Northumbrian Association chairman was a long-time supporter for the return of the Gospels to the North East.
His death comes just months before the illustrated manuscript, produced around 700 AD, is due to go on loan to Durham, from the British Library in London, from July to September.
Daughter Christine Danby-Platt said: “When the time came he wanted to be at home with his family and he got his wish.
“He was a man who believed passionately in the North East identity, and was all for the work of the Northumbrian Association.”
Mr Danby, who lived with his wife Hazel, was a founding member of the organisation which was set up in the late 1990s to maintain and promote North East cultural life,
He took over from Mike Tickell as chairman in 2007, having previously served as events organiser and treasurer.
Mr Tickell said: “John was a very creative and inspirational person who loved the North East and its culture. He was always smiling and remained very popular throughout his illness.”
John Cuthbert, president of the association, said: “John was not only enthusiastic and committed to promoting the culture and heritage of the region through the association, but also had an amazing and enviable ability to enthuse and engage others.
“He was a good man with a good heart and a true Northumbrian.”
Long-time friend and association historian, Chris Kilkenny added: “John was always energetic and kind and thought the best of people.
“He was enthusiastic about any project put in front of him and used to beaver away and do the groundwork to ensure that ideas became a reality. He seemed to know most of the people in the North East and was highly thought of.”
Mr Danby, who was also father to Joanne and a grandfather of five, retired some years ago after running a number of flower and fruit shops across Tyne and Wear, and devoted more of his time to his passion for North East culture and his love of walking, cycling and the countryside.
He had completed the coast-to-coast bike ride not long before being diagnosed with cancer of the spine in January 2011.
He died on Monday.
His family is setting up a memorial fund in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. His funeral will be held at St Chad’s Church, East Herrington, on Saturday at 11am.