Tributes to 'highly respected' former deputy South Tyneside Council leader and 'smashing bloke' Alan Kerr
At a meeting of South Tyneside Council last week, it was announced that former councillor Alan Kerr had sadly passed away.
The councillor, who represented the Monkton ward for Labour, was a member of the local authority for a total of 22 years and retired in September 2020 to spend more time with his family.
Since first being elected by the people of Hebburn in 1998, Cllr Kerr served on several key committees as well as a number of positions on the cabinet and more than a decade as deputy leader.
In 2001, Cllr Kerr also served as Mayor of South Tyneside where he and his wife, Mayoress Pat Kerr, held a busy civic year attending a variety of parades, civic receptions and events.
This included welcoming royalty to the borough when Her Majesty the Queen visited a local primary school and opened the Fellgate Metro Station.
Another highlight of their year in office saw Cllr Kerr lead a delegation to South Tyneside’s twin town of Wuppertal where he gave his speech in fluent German.
A family notice published this week confirmed the ex-councillor passed away peacefully on September 23, 2022, aged 85 years, after a “long illness”.
Following the news, tributes have poured in from Labour colleagues crediting his character and achievements.
Councillor Wilf Flynn, member for Hebburn South who worked alongside Cllr Kerr as Secretary of Jarrow Constituency Labour Party for 25 years, said he would be missed.
Cllr Flynn said:”Different people have approached me over the years to say what a smashing bloke he was and he was a real people person.
“He didn’t promise what he couldn’t deliver but would go out of his way to get things for people, whether that be adapted accommodation or the area needing to be tidied up, he was well-known for delivering in that sense.
“He was genuine, supportive and as honest as the day is long”.
Councillor Joan Keegan, Monkton ward councillor, described Alan as a “gentleman” who always offered a helping hand to ward colleagues and local residents.
Cllr Keegan added: “He was a great support and help to me when I first became a councillor and he did things quietly and got on with it.
“He was a gentleman as well and I mean in the old fashioned sense of the word in that he was courteous and would stand up if you came into the room.
“He was also an excellent councillor and helped people, I bet hundreds of people could come out and say what he did to help them.
“He served the people in the ward and he really served them well, he was absolutely amazing and his residents and constituents always came first.
“I learned a lot from Alan and he really was a lovely person”.
Councillor John McCabe, Hebburn South ward representative, said Alan was a “stalwart” and a strong representative for Hebburn residents.
Cllr McCabe said: “He was very very focused on delivering for the communities of Hebburn and he did deliver.
“He was a well-respected man both in the community and in council circles and the thing about him was that you could always rely on him.
“He always put people before himself and that’s what is lacking in political circles at the moment, they think that they know everything.
“Alan would always listen to what communities said and would try and deliver for them, he will be a big miss.”
Councillor Margaret Meling, who was elected to Cllr Kerr’s Monkton ward seat following his retirement, remembered his care and commitment to residents.
Cllr Meling added: “He had a nice way with people and he looked as if he was listening which is something some politicians don’t do very well.
“He certainly cared very deeply not only about residents in his own ward but the borough as a whole and was very committed to what he was doing.”
Alan had been a member of the Labour Party since being a young boy and had always been around local democracy and civic life having watched his father in his role as a councillor for Hebburn whilst growing up.
As well as serving as a councillor, Alan had also worked as a local government officer for more than 26 years in various roles such as transport, management services and training before retiring in 1996.
He was a big supporter of The Customs House for many years having studied A-Level drama and as a Customs House Board member since 2012.
Alan was also passionate about health matters, education and the aspirations and interests of young people and was a champion for the Youth Parliament during his time as Mayor.
At a meeting of South Tyneside Council on Thursday, September 29, a one-minute silence was held in memory of the former councillor.
Councillor Pat Hay, Mayor of South Tyneside, described Alan as a “very well liked and highly respected” councillor for the communities he served.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council, added the council was “deeply saddened” to learn of his passing.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dixon added:”He was a dedicated and highly respected member who served his Hebburn constituents for more than 20 years.
“His knowledge and experience made him a force to be reckoned with and his unerring passion was always for the people he represented.
“In his role as deputy leader, he made an enormous contribution to the borough, driving forward the council’s agenda.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very sad time.”
A family notice describes Alan as the “beloved husband of Pat, loving dad of Helen and Ian [and] adored granda of Mariel, Jeni, Coral and Elliot”.
A celebration of Alan’s life will take place at South Shields Crematorium on Tuesday, October 11 at 2.45pm, with a request for “family flowers only”.
A donation box will also be available at the service.