A highly respected South Tyneside businessman who made waves to get the best for the borough has been fondly remembered at his funeral.
An estimated 200 mourners at South Shields Crematorium were told that Geoff Ford MBE had made “quite a splash” in both his business and personal life.
Mr Ford, 75, who died on Monday, December 3, had led aerospace components company Ford Engineering Group, which has bases in Hebburn and South Shields, since 1975.
Through his endeavours, it has grown to become one of the North East’s best-known family businesses and is today a multi-million-pound turnover enterprise.
His work in building its solid foundations was also driven by a supportive and strong family life, the congregation at a packed South Shields Crematorium heard.
Mr Ford had been married to wife Marilyn since 1974 and was a father to sons Dan, 36, and Chris, 33, and also a grandfather-of-two.
At the service, Dan, a university lecturer, said his father had been “warm and supportive” to his children, who he had inspired through his “conduct and dignity”.
He recalled being together for family meals, card games at Christmas – and rugby on the television, adding: “We continue to be warmed by so many happy memories.”
Chris, who has followed his father into the Ford business, told mourners, many of whom listened to the service outside via loudspeaker: “He loved the business and loved the community of South Tyneside.
“At 75 years of age, he showed no sign of slowing down.”
The humanist service was led by Ian Hunter, who said Mr Ford had maintained a passion for his business and for South Tyneside.
He added: “He was an ambassador for the borough. He knew everybody, everybody knew Geoff. He got things done in a very quiet and understated way.
“We do remember a fine man, a gentleman, indeed. He made quite a splash.”
The Ford Engineering Group comprises Ford Aerospace, at Tyne Dock, South Shields, and Ford Components, at Hebburn, and it is also a maker of its own laminated products.
It specialises in the machining and pressing of components and assemblies for the aerospace, automotive and related high-technology industries.
Mr Ford’s passion for workforce skills learning led him to found the South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum, now named the Advanced Manufacturing Forum, in 2007.
In 2013, he launched the Ford Engineering Academy, a training initiative for 16 to 24-year-olds.
He had also been chairman of the South Tyneside Enterprise Partnership and of the South Tyneside Committee of the North East Chamber of Commerce, and vice-chair of the Local Strategic Partnership.
Ten years ago, he was made an MBE for services to business.