‘Staithes has lost a true son’

Mourners at the funeral of Willie Wright from Staithes.
Mourners at the funeral of Willie Wright from Staithes.

One of the biggest funerals in recent memory was held as Staithes said goodbye to former lifeboatman, Willie Wright, who died last month at 83.

More than 400 people crowded into St Hilda’s Church in Hinderwell, including seafaring friends from up and down the North East coast.

The cortege began on Staithes harbour front where a full complement of Staithes and Runswick RNLI provided a guard of honour and moved slowly through the village. It was led by David Porritt, the station’s launch operations manager, carrying the standard of the RNLI.

The coffin, draped in the flag of the RNLI, was carried into St Hilda’s by past and present members of Staithes and Runswick RNLI, where Willie Wright was a crewman for 17 years. It was given a second guard of honour as it entered the church by RNLI members and saluted by a troop of HM Coastguard.

In his address, the Rev Alan Coates said the huge attendance showed the depth of feeling for one of the village’s best loved characters. He said: “Once you met Willie you never forgot him. He was a man of many parts with a diversity of interests - though they all had a strong connection with his beloved Staithes. There’ll never be another Willie Wright and we are all the poorer for his passing. Staithes has lost a true son.”

Interment was in Hinderwell cemetery where the Men of Staithes choir, of which Mr Wright was a founder member, sang the traditional lowering hymn ‘Sleep on Beloved’, the hymn which Mr Wright had personally sung at local funerals for many years.