TRIBUTES have been paid to a former youth worker from South Shields who dedicated much of her life to young people in the town.
Betty Inkster, who ran Tyne Dock Youth Club, passed away suddenly on December 8 at South Tyneside District Hospital.
The 75-year-old was well loved and respected by hundreds of South Tyneside youngsters across the generations.
She worked at the former youth club, originally based in Hudson Street, South Shields, with her late husband, Jack Inkster BEM, and alongside Ernie Whales.
The couple took over the club when Mr Whales passed away and Mrs Inkster stayed at the helm before it was closed down and converted into what is now The Cave in Captain’s Row.
Terry Perry, who runs the Nearly Famous performing arts group at Brinkburn Community Association with his son Christopher, met Mrs Inkster when he joined Tyne Dock Youth Club as a teenager.
He said: “I think she started at the youth club probably when she was about 18, when it was in Hudson Street. She and her husband Jack took over when Ernie passed away.
“I’ve known Betty since I was a youngster. She was kind-hearted, reliable and trustworthy. If anything had to be done, she would do it, and she’d always do it right.
“She did absolutely everything.
“She would cook for 60 kids and never ask for a penny. That was just the kind of lady she was.”
He added: “Youth work was her life and she would do anything for the kids. She even trained countless people up to be youth workers.
“I became a youth worker too and worked with her at Tyne Dock Youth Club.
“When Christopher was born, she took him on board like he was her grandson, and in 2003, when he was 13, he decided he wanted to set up his own performing arts group.
“She’d just retired from Tyne Dock ,and said she would help him and myself run the group. She acted as the secretary and treasurer for Nearly Famous ever since.
“She helped us get loads of grants and funding, and she would just do anything she could to help.”
Mr Perry and his son are now planning to hold a charity fundraiser as a tribute to Mrs Inkster next year.
He said: “We do a fundraiser every year, normally for the Mayor’s charity, but this year we’re dedicating it to Betty and raising money for the hospital’s Heartcall appeal. We’re going to do it at the end of March.
“She was a lovely lady, and she’ll be very sadly missed.
“Tyne Dock Youth Club was a fantastic thing to be part of and we’ve never looked back after setting up Nearly Famous. It’s still going strong and she was a huge part of it.
“I was at the hospital with her just hours before she died and she seemed fine. I can’t believe it.”
Mrs Inkster’s funeral service will take place on Wednesday at All Saints’ Church in Boldon Lane, South Shields, at 10.45am, and then at South Shields Crematorium at 11.30am.
The family have requested that any donations in lieu of flowers be made to South Tyneside District Hospital’s Heartcall appeal.
A donation box will be at the crematorium in John Reid Road, South Shields.