THE funeral service for a grandfather who died in a road accident will raise cash for a charity which helped his family through an earlier tragedy.
South Shields father-of-two Michael Lewthwaite was travelling to work last Thursday when his motorbike was involved in a collision with a Royal Mail van near the entrance of the Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel in North Tyneside.
His younger brother Anthony was travelling close behind in a van and witnessed the crash scene.
Mr Lewthwaite, 49, died at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary last Friday.
An emotional final farewell will be paid to Mr Lewthwaite, who has two children, Sabrina, 24, and Conrad, 23, and a two-year-old grandson, Dragun, when his funeral service is held at Harton Cemetery Chapel on Tuesday.
Family members are expecting a huge turnout for the service – and are urging well-wishers to donate to a charity close to their heart on the day.
The Carers Trust offered valuable support to Michael’s sister Denise Healy, who died of a brain tumour eight years ago.
Her husband, Patrick Healy, became trustee of the charity following her death in a bid to ensure other families were aware of the support the charity offers.
Now the Lewthwaite family are hoping to give the charity another boost – as a tribute to caring and generous Michael.
His father, David Lewthwaite, 72, said: “We are expecting a big turn-out for the funeral. Michael was a very popular lad. We are going to have speakers outside the chapel as we are expecting numbers to spill over.
“We are asking people to give donations to the Carers Trust charity at the funeral.
“It is a charity close to the family’s hearts. They gave a lot of support to Denise when she was ill.”
Mr Lewthwaite worked as a self-employed engineer and pipe fitter in the oil and gas industry, often working offshore all over Europe.
He shared time between a caravan in on Lizard Lane, South Shields, and his parents’ address in the town’s Fairholme Avenue. His mother, Linda Lewthwaite, 69, said: “He was a free spirit. He was very laid back. I think he was born too late. He should’ve been a hippy, with the long hair and beard.
“He was a very generous and caring person. He was a very big man, 6ft 4in, with a very big heart.
Police are continuing to appeal for information about the crash, which happened last Thursday at 6.50am, on the A187 Times View Terrace, East Howdon, Wallsend, near the entrance of the Tyne pedestrian tunnel.
The van driver, a man in his 50s, suffered minor injuries.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191 quoting reference 193 12/06/14 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Mr Lewthwaite’s funeral service will be held at 2.15pm.
Thea Stein, chief executive of Carers Trust, said: “We are extremely sad to hear of Michael’s death and our condolences go out to his family and friends.
“We are grateful that the family has kindly asked for donations to be made to Carers Trust, which will help to support some of the many people providing unpaid care daily.”
For more information on the Carers Trust – which offers valuable and advice and support to those caring for loved ones – visit www.carers.org