MOURNERS turned out to bid farewell to former Sunderland City Council leader Colin Anderson.
St Mark’s Church, in Hylton Road, was packed with family and friends, councillors past and present, civic centre staff and constituents to say goodbye to a man who served the city for almost 40 years.
The Millfield councillor’s successors as council leader, Coun Bob Symonds and Coun Paul Watson, were joined by Mayor of Sunderland Coun Tom Martin, Conservative group leader Coun Tony Morrisey and his predecessor Coun Margaret Forbes for yesterday’s service.
Jazz band Dan Darling and the Lovely Chaps played the coffin into and out of the church, while parish priest the Rev Olaf Eriksson and Sunderland Minster’s Canon Stephen Taylor led the service.
The Rev Eriksson read tributes from one of Mr Anderson’s colleagues and from daughter Zoe, who said: “I couldn’t have wished for a better father.”
Colin Anderson, who died last month aged 64, became Sunderland’s youngest ever alderman in 1972, then worked as a councillor in the East End for first the Central and then Millfield wards, with only a two-year break until his retirement in 2007.
He became deputy council leader in 1995 and succeeded former leader Bryn Sidaway in the top job when Mr Sidaway lost his seat in 1999, leading the authority for three years.
As well as his role as sitting on the council, he held posts including vice-chairman of the council’s personnel committee, chairman of the Tyne and Wear Learning Partnership, chairman of governors at Thornhill School, Nexus board member and even safety marshal for the East End carnival.
A larger-than-life figure in many ways, Colin Anderson was never afraid to speak his mind and once, while council leader, famously attracted controversy when he compared Sunderland’s council tax rise to the price of a pasty – even posing with one of Gregg’s finest to make his point.
After standing down from the council, he was one of five founder members of community interest company Riverside Consulting, which helps community organisations with fund-raising, development, business planning and project management.