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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Maryport says goodbye to its champion Bill Cameron

A simple banner summed up a town’s thoughts as the man dubbed Mr Maryport was laid to rest.

Banner for Bill Cameron photo
Michael Heaslip beside the banner

The black banner, saying “Maryport says ‘Thanks Bill Cameron’. RIP Marra!”, adorned Netherhall Corner as political colleagues joined family and friends in St Mary’s Church to pay tribute.

He died on March 21 aged 87 after dedicating more than four decades to serving the town, having gone into politics in 1967 and serving until last May.

An arrangement of cream flowers and a photograph adorned Mr Cameron’s coffin as people including Cumbria County Council leader Stewart Young, former leader Eddie Martin, Allerdale council leader and deputy leader Alan Smith and Barbara Cannon gathered to pay tribute.

But, while politics played a huge role in Mr Cameron’s life, the Rev Richard Skinner, minister of Maryport Methodist Church, reminded the congregation that he was also a dedicated husband to late wife Sheila, father to Lorraine and Neil, father-in-law to Raymond and Yvonne, grandfather to Jonathon, committed Christian, friend and neighbour.

Mr Skinner said he would be remembered for “his love of railways and his genuine concern for the ordinary people of Maryport and their needs”.

Eric Wright, ex-minister of the former Ellenborough Methodist Chapel, which Mr Cameron attended until its closure, said: “Despite political differences with others, he always fought hard for Maryport. Maryport owes a lot to him.”

Councillor Keith Little, county councillor for Maryport South, described some of the things Mr Cameron had fought for, including bringing multi-million-pound investment into Maryport Harbour, improving the town’s back lanes and helping to get extra train capacity between Maryport and Workington after the 2009 floods.

Initially serving on Maryport urban district council and, three years later, Cumberland County Council, he became a Maryport town and Cumbria county councillor after local government reorganisation.

He was a chairman of the West Coast Rail 250 pressure group, which campaigned for a west coast mainline upgraded, and took on Margaret Thatcher when she tried to close the Carlisle to Settle line. He became the only councillor to have a train named after him.

Mr Little said: “I have been fortunate to have Bill as a friend and in my role in local government as a mentor.”

Mr Cameron’s daughter read a poem the pair found in Scotland during a holiday after his wife had died.

On the wall of a remote church the couple used to visit and entitled Always I Shall Be There, it brought him comfort and he selected it for his funeral.

Flimby Male Voice Choir, who Mr Cameron supported, joined the congregation to sing three of the hymns he loved – O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go, Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah and Great Is They Faithfulness.

His coffin was carried from the church to Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations before being interred in Maryport cemetery.

The News & Star attended Mr Cameron’s funeral service with the permission of his family.

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