Heartwarming tributes were today paid to a charity champion who has sadly died.
After working for 26 years as a barmaid at Farringdon Social Club, Eleanor Mae Sparks devoted her later years to tirelessly raising cash for good causes on Wearside.
On a daily basis Eleanor, who passed away aged 83 last week, would be active raising money through raffles from prizes donated by the public and businesses, holding charity events and even getting family friends to run the Great North Run in her name.
“To say my mam was popular would be a huge understatement,” said Eleanor’s son Graham, who describes her as an “amazing lady”.
“She was loved by thousands and thousands of people and she’ll be sadly missed by them all.”
Meticulous with the money she raised, all contributions were paid by cheque from a bank account specially set up by Eleanor.
She was loved by thousands and thousands of people and she’ll be sadly missed by them all.Graham Sparks
All thank you letters would then be placed on the notice board in Farringdon Club and on one occasion after her retirement her family out of curiosity started calculating from chequebook stubs to see just how much she had raised.
Based on over 40 years of fund-raising, they estimate she must have generated a six-figure amount.
Among some of the main beneficiaries of Eleanor’s charity work were Portland and Sunningdale special schools and Grace House.
Despite being involved in less charity work in the final decade of her life, members and the committtee of Farringdon Social Club put Eleanor forward for Fundraiser of the Year gong at the Echo’s Best of Wearside Awards, which she then won.
“Mam was up against some famous people in her category like Bobby Knoxall, but she managed to win and as you can imagine she was delighted,” added Graham.
“It was the least she deserved for all she had done in her life.
“As her family we were ecstatic.”
For the last year of her life, she had been living in Haddington Vale, in Doxford Park.
As well as Graham, Eleanor leaves daughter, Eleanor (CORR), and grandchildren Christopher and Alexandra.
Alexandra is currently expecting her first child.
Her funeral will be held on Tuesday, June 28, at St Chad’s Church at 11.45am before creamtion at Sunderland Crematorium.