Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Hundreds Pay Final Respects to Ex-MP; Mourners Pack Church to Celebrate Life of Man with Big Influence on Teesside

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Hundreds Pay Final Respects to Ex-MP; Mourners Pack Church to Celebrate Life of Man with Big Influence on Teesside

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY McKENZIE

A MAN of the people was how Sir John Hall summed up Frank Cook at the funeral service for the former Stockton MP.

Around 300 mourners attended the service yesterday in St Cuthbert's RC Church in Stockton.

They included Mr Cook's widow Princess Somsangouane, family and friends, Ann Ming, with whom he successfully campaigned for a change in the double jeopardy law, and former Stockton South MP Dari Taylor.

Also in attendance were representatives of Stockton Council, including council leader Councillor Bob Cook and chief executive Neil Schneider, representatives of Cleveland Police including assistant chief constable Sean White and Alan Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Cook died at the age of 76 after battling against lung cancer. He served as Stockton North's MP from 1983 to 2010.

Sir John, who met Mr Cook when he bought Wynyard Hall estate 25 years ago, said the two men, despite being from opposite ends of the political spectrum, became friends.

Giving the eulogy at the service Sir John said: "Today when we mourn the loss of Frank it is also a time to celebrate his life.

"He was a big man in many ways. He had a great influence on many matters including many on Teesside."

Sir John referred to the variety of jobs Mr Cook did including a teacher, gravedigger and Butlins Redcoat before becoming an MP in 1983.

He said Mr Cook had an understanding of what it was like to have to battle for a living and that was the grounding for his political life.

Sir John said Mr Cook did not covet high political office - it was working for and representing local people that he was about.

He said that among the major issues Mr Cook had taken up was the fight against the proposal to have Cleveland Police as part of a superforce. His opposition helped change Government policy but it had not made him many friends in the corridors of power.

The first major issue he had taken up after becoming an MP was the campaign to prevent the storage of nuclear waste under his beloved Billingham. …

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