A POPULAR grandfather from South Tyneside was due to be laid to rest today near his beloved sister.
A huge turnout was expected for the funeral of Michael Lewthwaite, who was killed when his motorbike was involved in a collision with a Royal Mail van near the entrance of the Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel in North Tyneside on June 12.
The 49-year-old, who has two children, Sabrina, 24, and Conrad, 23, and a two-year-old grandson, Dragun, spent two days at Royal Victoria Infirmary before losing his fight for life on Friday, June 13.
His death was the second tragedy to hit the family. Sister Denise Healy died of a brain tumour in May 2006.
Michael was being buried just feet away from his sister at Harton Cemetery at the request of his two children. His mother, Linda Lewthwaite, 69, said: “Denise is buried very near to where Michael will be. She is just a matter of feet away.
“They were always so close in life. They were all born just a few years apart. We had a few burial plots in mind but Michael’s children said we want him to be close to Aunty Denise.”
Family members are asking mourners at the Harton Cemetery Chapel service – which was due to start at 2.15pm – to donate funds to the Carers Trust charity, which supported Denise during her illness.
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 organisation offers.
Mr Lewthwaite worked as a self-employed engineer and pipe fitter in the oil and gas industry, often working offshore all over Europe.