Tributes paid to Sunderland grandmother who tended German war graves for more than 60 years

A Sunderland grandmother who was honoured for her work tending German war graves has died.

Thursday, 25th January 2018, 5:00 am
Mrs Mary Reid with Colonel Jörg Rütten and Mayor of Sunderland Coun Doris Macknight

Mary Reid cared for the plots in Castletown cemetery for more than 60 years.

In November she received the German War Graves commission’s highest honour - the Gold Cross of Honour.

Mary Reid with her Gold Cross of Honour

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Military Attache of the German Embassy in London, Col Jörg Rütten, and Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mrs Manuela Wendler, visited the city to present Mary with her medal at Sunderland Civic Centre.

May, who had celebrated her 94th birthday on Boxing Day, passed away on January 18.

“She had a fall and after that she just seemed to give up,” said daughter Margaret Hahn.

“She got really poorly and that was it.

Mary Reid with her Gold Cross of Honour

“Everybody remembers my mum - she was quite a character. We have had a lot of lovely comments from people.

“We had a letter from the Houses of Parliament, from Sharon Hodgson, who was pretty friendly with my mum.

“We got a lovely card from her - it was really nice.”

Mary, who served in the Royal Ordnance Corps, was chairwoman of the Castletown section of the Royal British Legion.

Mayor of Sunderland Coun Doris MacKnight, said: “Mary Reid was a true champion of her community and our city, and will be sadly missed by a great many people.

“I first got to know her through her involvement with the Labour Party and work with the Royal British Legion, and her reputation locally as a lady who everybody knew they could turn to if they needed help or advice.

“Mary was also a keen church-goer when she was more able to get about, and attended the Sacred Heart RC church in Hylton Castle.

“Over the years we became great friends and I was incredibly proud both as Mayor of Sunderland and her ward councillor, to be involved in the medal presentation ceremony with the War Graves Commission and German Government last year, honouring the decades she spent tending war graves in Castletown cemetery.

“That was Mary, a woman who would do anything for anybody and was loved by all. She also had a wicked sense of humour and loved a tipple of whiskey which she jokingly said helped her keep young.”

A funeral service will be held at Sacred Heart Church at 10.30am on Friday, February 9, followed by cremation.