A POPULAR Wearside artist who once met Prince Charles has died after a battle with lung cancer.
Tributes have been paid to George Westgarth, of Hetton, who was aged 87.
Born in Moorsley, Mr Westgarth was a blacksmith for all of his working life.
He worked for 43 years in the trade at Eppleton Colliery before retirement.
He then became secretary of Hetton Art Club and volunteered as a blacksmith at Ryhope Pumping Station and Bowes Railway, Springwell.
His artwork, covered in the Echo, included painting pit scenes and also creating mining sculptures, many items of which were put on display in Hetton.
Mr Westgarth and wife Lily, 84, were members of Hetton Park Bowls Club.
In 2004, he was given the opportunity to present Prince Charles with a ram’s head poker, when the Prince of Wales visited Ryhope Pumping Station.
Mr Westgarth’s daughter Anne Thompson today paid tribute to her dad, who she described as a “wonderful, wonderful man”.
The 57-year-old said: “He has had a very hard battle after he was diagnosed in February.
“He and my mam celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in September.
“He just loved blacksmithing, it was his life.
“When he got the opportunity to meet Prince Charles he was delighted. He felt honoured.”
Hetton Art Club has now decided to change its name to include Westgarth House in the address.
“It’s a true honour and dad would have been thrilled with that,” added Mrs Thompson.
Mr Westgarth died on December 18, with his funeral at Hetton Methodist Church held on December 23.
“Despite it being only two days before Christmas, a 20-piece brass band from the area turned out,” said Mrs Thompson, who gave a moving eulogy.
“I can’t remember exactly how many people were at the funeral because it was a very emotional day. But it was certainly a lot.”
In lieu of flowers, more than £400 was donated at Mr Westgarth’s funeral to the MS Trust, as Mrs Thompson’s son Stephen Evans, 33, suffers from the condition.
George leaves Lily, Anne, his son Kenneth, 62, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.