SUNDERLAND has bid farewell to one of its best-known sons.
Hundreds of people attended a memorial service for Sir Tom Cowie, who died in January, aged 89, at Sunderland Minster yesterday.
Civic figures such as city council leader Coun Paul Watson, Conservative leader Coun Robert Oliver and former Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin were joined by the likes of former Vaux chiefs Sir Paul and Frank Nicholson, Black Cats stars Bobby Kerr, Jimmy Montgomery and Len Ashurst and Leighton Group founder Paul Callaghan.
Television agony aunt Denise Robertson, who wrote his biography, said: “We were friends for a long time and this is a very sad day. He is a great loss as a friend and as someone who gave so much to the city he loved with all his heart.”
Jimmy Montgomery, who served as Sunderland AFC goalkeeping coach at Roker Park when Sir Tom was chairman, said: “He always had the club at heart. He was fanatical about Sunderland.”
Coun Watson paid tribute to a man who was dedicated to politics in Sunderland – even though Sir Tom was a life-long supporter of the Conservative party.
“There are certain things that transcend political divisions and one of those is a passion for the place where you were born and bred,” he said.
“Sir Tom would always fight for his convictions and he always did what he believed was best for the city.”
The congregation heard eulogies from Sunderland University vice-chancellor Prof Peter Fidler and family friend Sir Robin Buchanan.
Prof Fidler said: “Sir Tom has touched so many lives so positively and he had shown us through attributes he had in abundance – integrity, determination, and drive, loyalty and compassion and an unswerving commitment to his family and friends and to those less fortunate – that so much can be achieved.”