FAMILY, football, and jazz... Those three passions stayed with Eric Hudson throughout his 91 years of life.

A lifelong Carlisle United fan and father-of-four, he was respected and liked by everybody who knew him - no doubt in part because he radiated positivity and was - in the words of his youngest son Martin - “unfailingly cheerful.”

One of five children, he spent his early life in Upperby, south of Carlisle, before the village was swallowed by the city’s urban sprawl. He was a boy of nine when he first met the girl who would become his wife.

Margaret was two years younger.

After school came national service with the RAF at Catterick, in north Yorkshire.

While he was there, Eric took his first steps into what was to be one of his life’s joys - music - as he set about organising entertainment for fellow RAF personnel.

After returning at the age of 18 to Carlisle, Eric’s rekindled friendship with Margaret blossomed into romance and in 1951 the couple married - a partnership that endured and deepened.

The couple had four sons: Steve, Stuart, Graeme and Martin.

At his funeral service, the eulogy put it this way: “They became the story of each other’s life.” Quite simply, they had fallen in love and stayed in love; or to put it in Margaret’s words: “Even after 70 years of marriage, we still actually rather liked each other.”

Once back in his home city, Eric also found his career - in insurance.

His first responsibility was to cycle around Carlisle, collecting premiums for “The PRU”.

Later, Eric worked in Warwick Road for National Employers Mutual, becoming expert in all things concerning insurance, and eventually rising to manage the firm’s Carlisle operation.

Sociable, debonair, and trustworthy, this dapper young professional - who bore more than a passing resemblance to the movie legend David Niven - spent decades working with customers in both Carlisle and in west Cumbria.

During the 1960s, Eric also threw himself into his other great passion: music.

He set up a jazz club at the Pheasant pub in Caldewgate, which attracted quality jazz bands and musicians, from local legends such as Mick Potts & His Gateway Jazz Band to nationally renowned bands bands such as Temperance Seven.

Those who knew Eric could not fail to know about the other great passion: Carlisle United.

Such was his interest and involvement, that he personally knew many of the club’s players.

A season ticket holder, he was there for many of the club’s biggest moments: occasions such as the team’s historic 1951 FA Cup clash with the mighty Arsenal (ending with an honourable 0-0 draw); and the historic trip to Wembley in 1995 when the Blues faced Birmingham.

Among the stories told at Eric’s funeral was one showing his devotion to United: how during his honeymoon he somehow “got lost’ and conveniently ended up in Coventry where his beloved team happened to be playing against The Sky Blues of Coventry City.”

When news of Eric’s passing on August 14 became public, a flood of tributes poured in, many via Carlisle United’s Facebook page. Club Chairman Andrew Jenkins wrote: “It’s sad news: Eric was liked by everybody; he was such a decent man. He used to help us in so many ways.”

“He always had a smile and a very welcoming and endearing manner. We’ll all miss him.” Typical of the reactions was this: “ A truly wonderful, kind-hearted, amazing gentleman.”

His youngest son Martin said: “He was just unfailingly cheerful: always smiling, always pleased to see you, always calm, and always interested in what was going on in your life.”

* Eric passed away peacefully at Brampton Cottage Hospital on August 14. His funeral service - organised by George Hudson & Sons - was held at Carlisle Crematorium on August 24th with donations to League of Friends Brampton Cottage Hospital.