Wear your poppy in respect for Wearside’s Norman Gray

Norman Gray at the bar of Sunderlands Royal British Legion club, where he was chairman for many years.

Norman Gray at the bar of Sunderlands Royal British Legion club, where he was chairman for many years.

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Mourners have been asked to wear a poppy when they gather to pay their respects to the man who led the city’s Royal British Legion appeal for four decades.

Veteran Norman Gray has died at the age of 82 after suffering from pneumonia.

He had joined the RAF through national service in the 1950s and worked as a member of its ground crew.

He helped train on its Harvard planes, which were used to prepare those who would go on to fly Spitfires.

After leaving the force, he went on to work for Sunderland City Council, where he rose to the rank of its chief cashier, retiring when he reached 61.

His first wife Shirley died in 1977 when she was 42, leaving him to raise their three daughters, Maureen Maddison, now 55, Judith Gray, 52, and Debra Coker, 50.

He also leaves five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Norman, of Ashbrooke, married again in 2009, but lost second wife Molly in 2011 when she was 75.

Maureen said: “The thing the cards have said he was a gentleman and a lovely man.

“He always looked for the positive, had a bright outlook and had a cheeky comment.”