TRIBUTES have been paid after the death of a community stalwart who inspired TV’s Secret Millionaire.
Easington Social Welfare Centre secretary Cyril Dunn, who had been hailed as the “driving force” behind a major campaign to bring the community venue back into use, has died aged 72 of heart failure.
He appeared on Channel 4’s hit Secret Millionaire show when marketing tycoon Carl Hopkins went undercover before handing over £12,000 to help revamp the former miners’ hall.
Mr Hopkins, from Leeds, still kept in touch with Cyril and his wife, Anne, 70, after the 2008 programme. He said he still speaks about Cyril when he gives speeches to schoolchildren across the UK.
He said: “The effort and passion he put into the welfare centre and how he tried to draw together the Easington community and communities beyond there just inspired me.”
Cyril lived in Easington for 50 years and had worked as a mechanic at the village’s pit.
He was a trustee at the centre, in Seaside Lane, before becoming secretary and spent the past 20 years helping to revive the 1934-built building, which has been earmarked for a £1.7million revamp.
Cyril was also a former Easington Colliery Parish Council chairman.
Centre manager Geoff Price, said: “Cyril had a passion for this building that was a testament to the mining industry and its heritage.”
Cyril’s son, Michael, a 46-year-old gas engineer from Easington Village, said: “It was fantastic for dad to be involved in The Secret Millionaire.
“He was just gobsmacked that somebody had taken the time and effort to come up and see what they did and they received a fairly decent amount of money towards the welfare centre.”
Michael, who is married to Nora, 47, and dad to Martin and James, added: “My dad’s legacy is the welfare hall and how successful it’s been in the last 10 to 15 years.
“I’m absolutely certain the team at the centre will continue to do what my dad strived to do.”
Grandson Martin, a 20-year-old sports journalism student at Sunderland University, said: “He wasn’t just my granddad, he was my hero.”
Cyril also left behind a daughter, Susan Lewins, 51, her husband Brian, 51, and their children Sarah and Jonathon.
Cyril died last Wednesday and his funeral was due to take place today at Easington’s Church of Ascension, in Seaside Lane, followed by interment at Easington Colliery Cemetery and a celebration of his life at the welfare centre.