Tributes to community centre stalwart

Julie Davis
Julie Davis
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A WOMAN whose legacy was to secure the future of her community centre has died after losing her fight against cancer.

Julie Davis was declared free of the disease after she had breast cancer nine years ago, but three years ago doctors discovered the illness had returned to her bones.

Knowing her days were few, the mother-of-three set about ensuring Eastlea Community Centre in Seaham would be able to run without financial worries for years to come.

As its chief executive officer, she helped oversee the rebuilding of the centre where her late grandmother Nellie Ambler set up its luncheon club.

Julie also launched a host of projects and clubs herself.

A wall of photographs and tributes dedicated to her has remained at the centre since she left due to ill health and a room has also been named after her.

The 52-year-old died on Friday, with her family bringing forward Christmas celebrations so they could spend one last festive time together.

Her children Douglas, 32, Maria, 31, and Ashleigh, 29, spent the eve of the party together before 21 of her family gathered at St Benedict’s Hospice for a Christmas dinner.

As a surprise, volunteer Bob Hansford dressed up as Santa, with her loved ones saying she “bloomed” as she saw her relations enjoy themselves.

Her mum Sonia Forster, 73, a councillor on Seaham and Durham County Councils, said: “When she knew she didn’t have long she decided to get on the phone to all the funders for the centre and get them on board infinitum, so she could leave that as her legacy for Seaham. She was content with that and put her soul into it.

“There was nobody as kind as our Julie.

“If you went to her door with nothing, she would empty her purses and leave herself with nothing.

“She never forgot her roots and what it was like to be poor, she understood everybody.”

She also leaves stepfather Bob, 63, partner Roy Davis, 63, and her sister Joy McAucliffe, 50.

The grandmother-of-seven, whose maiden name was Weatherall and was previously known as Swaidan, started her working career on the reception and managing the accounts of The Manor hotel in Athenaeum Street in Sunderland.

She had a host of other jobs, but decided during her time with Mencap to take a degree in health sciences at University of Sunderland.

Julie planned her own funeral and asked all those who will attend tomorrow to wear bright colours, with money in lieu of flowers to be donated to the hospice, which offered her day care and respite stays.

The service will he held at Christ Church, in Station Road, at 11am, with a crèche to be set up for children and a gathering to be held afterwards at New Seaham Conservative Club.