Death of priest and miner aged 89

Rev Jimmy Smith's funeral will take place at St Andrew's Church.
Rev Jimmy Smith's funeral will take place at St Andrew's Church.

Tributes will be paid to a former miner, who became a priest, at his funeral in Ashington on Saturday.

Rev Jimmy Smith, who died aged 89 on March 20, was born in 1926 at Ferneybeds, Widdrington Station, and his first job was as a butcher’s boy at the age of 14.

His first mining job was at Weetslade Colliery in 1948 and he then moved on to Lynemouth. A spell at Ashington Colliery Workshops followed the fire at Lynemouth in 1966.

He was a former chairman of the NUM Mechanics Lodge at Lynemouth. He retired from the coal industry in 1982.

While he was a miner, he ran a photography business specialising in weddings and portraits.

Jimmy became a church reader in 1969 and later studied at Durham University to be ordained a deacon in 1979, then a full non-stipendiary priest in 1980.

This was documented in the News Post at the time. His achievement was no mean feat considering that he was regularly travelling to Durham for lectures and seminars, then returning to catch his shift in the pit.

He admitted that he put off going into the church because of his lack of academic qualifications, but once he did, he gradually built up his knowledge and gained experience by preaching at churches in the local area.

He assisted in his home parish of Seaton Hirst before being asked to help out at Cresswell and Lynemouth in 1981. He moved on to Sleekburn and Cambois in 1988 until his retirement in 1993.

Jimmy met his wife Doris at St Andrew’s Church and they got married there on August 1, 1949. They have three sons – Christopher, David and Robin – and five grandchildren.

He and the family became active members of the church and there was involvement with the local parish council, choir and youth club.

In the 1960s, he ran the 4th Hirst Cub Scout Group.

Canon Raymond Best will take the funeral at St Andrew’s, which starts at 10.30am, as he is covering the parish temporarily.

Coincidentally, he was in charge when Jimmy was ordained in 1979/80.