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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Hundreds gather to say farewell to veteran Carlisle councillor

Hundreds of mourners packed into a Carlisle church to bid an emotional farewell to one of the city’s most outspoken and popular political campaigners.

Willie Whalen funeral photo
Traffic was stopped on Warwick Road for the civic procession

Willie Whalen, 67, was laid to rest at Carlisle’s Dalston Road Cemetery after a Catholic requiem mass at Our Lady and St Joseph’s Church in Warwick Road.

Senior councillors from all the major political parties were there to pay their respects, as were scores of Mr Whalen’s friends.

A dedicated family man, Mr Whalen, who died on June 8, was a veteran county and city councillor who devoted much of his time to helping the destitute.

One of his favourite good causes was Carlisle’s Food Bank, and donations in the form of food parcels were invited after the service.

But Mr Whalen, who represented Castle ward, was also a devout Catholic, whose left-wing politics went hand in hand with his faith.

Commenting after the mass, long-time friend and fellow councillor Elsie Martlew, deputy leader of Carlisle City Council, said:“It was a traditional and solemn Catholic requiem mass – just as Willie would have wanted it.

“His faith was an intrinsic part of who he was. For the people there, the day was about saying goodbye in the way he would have wanted.

“The mass was in Latin, but it had a calmness, and solemnity about it that would have made him smile. Willie will be greatly missed.”

Earlier this week, Mr Whalen’s son John-Paul summed up his father, saying: “He was never afraid to stand up for what he believed. He was a true fighter and scared of no one.

“My dad was a good, principled Catholic man who would help anyone, even at his own sacrifice.

“He always had to help everyone else first. The world has lost a good man.”

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