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Tributes paid to Sunderland charity champion Janice Procter who raised thousands in soldier son's memory

Tributes have been paid to the mum of an Iraq war hero who channeled her grief to help others.

Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 9:42 am

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Janice Procter faced every parent’s worst nightmare when son Pte Michael Tench died in the back of a Warrior armoured car which was blasted by a roadside bomb in Basra in January 2007.

The former Hylton Red House School pupil, known as Tenchy, was just 18, making him the youngest to die in the conflict at the time.

For years after, his boots stayed in the porch of his mum’s former Carley Hill home and she used her unimaginable grief for good, teaming up with other bereaved families and military to organise events such as the city’s Armed Forces Weekend in Seaburn and raising funds for the Brothers in Arms memorial wall in Mowbray Park.

Tributes have been paid to charity fundraiser Janice Procter who has died aged 60

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Now, tributes have been paid to the dedicated mum who died aged 60 in the home she shared in Sulgrave, Washington, with husband Colin on May 27.

That night, she’d woken her partner up saying she couldn’t feel her left arm. Colin had rang paramedics but Janice, who was also mum to Mark and Stacey, suffered a suspected cardiac arrest as they arrived, with the first responders fighting to save her life for 45 minutes.

The family has been left distraught by the loss of a mother who did so much for others, but sister Donna Willis says they’ve found some comfort in tributes to the selfless fundraiser.

“Reading all the comments on Facebook and seeing how well loved and respected she was has really helped,” she said. “We’re all still in shock. Colin doesn’t know what he’ll do without her, she did so much for everyone and was a massive part of all of our lives.

Tom and Carla Cuthbertson with then-Mayor of Sunderland Norma Wright and fellow Brothers in Arms members Linda Fisken, Brenda Gooch and Janice at the dedication of the Brothers in Arms memorial wall

"I don’t think she grieved fully for Michael at first because she put her grief into doing good. She did so much out of something so bad.”

As well as caring for grandchildren Ellie, 16, Michael (named after his uncle), 15 and Bronya, 13, who lived with her and Colin, Janice kept up her armed forces fundraising and even in her final days was organising this year’s Armed Forces Weekend, which she organised for more than 10 years.

Her family are now having to deal with organising her funeral. The date has not yet been set but it will be held at Holy Trinity Church in Southwick, the same church where Michael’s military funeral took place, and she will be buried with her beloved late son.

Janice, a grandma of seven and great-grandma of two, had taken out life insurance a few months ago but as it hadn’t been in place for 12 months, the company is not paying out.

The funeral of Private Michael Tench in 2007. Janice will be buried with her son

But those who knew the mum have rallied round to launch a Go Fund Me page to raise money for forces charities and funds to help pay for funeral costs and to care for her grandchildren.

An anonymous donor has kicked off the fund with a pledge of £2,000.

The donor said: “She cared for everyone all her life, raising thousands for others. Now we need to care for her. She did everything for everyone, but she was caught short by the insurance company.”

Janice also leaves mum Sheila Lynch, brother Michael Lynch and late sister Christine Lynch.

Sunderland Armed Forces Day. From left Tom Hudson, Janice Proctor, Doug Bryant, Alex Bonallie and Paul Jasper

You can donate to the Go Fund Me for Janice here.

Janice Procter with a picture of her son Private Michael Tench who was killed in Iraq in January 2007.
Organisers of ther Sunderland's Armed Forces Weekend at Seaburn, l-r Paul Jasper, Janice Procter and John Quinn.
Soldier Private Michael Tench who was killed in Iraq after his patrol vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.
Organisers Paul Jasper, left, Jean Reay, centre, and Janice Procter, before setting off from Seaburn on the Tenchy Tag 10k, to raise funds for Sunderland's Armed Forces Day.
Ex-soldiers and members of the Silver Bugle Association, together with Janice taking part in a route march from The Wessington in Wessington Way to Seaburn, in aid of raising money for the Association, Help the Heroes and Brothers in Arms.