Families of collision victims pay tribute

Gary Hedley and Lee Pollard pictured in Switzerland last year.
Gary Hedley and Lee Pollard pictured in Switzerland last year.
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The families of two Morpeth men who died following a collision near Guide Post have paid tribute to them.

The incident on the A196 on Thursday, November 19 between Paddock Hall Farm and North Farm claimed the lives of best friends Lee Pollard, 23, of Bluebell Rise, and Gary Hedley, 24, of Second Avenue.

Gary’s brother David and Lee’s brother Mark both said the duo were ‘inseparable’ and they went travelling abroad together.

Lee graduated from Sunderland University with a degree in journalism earlier this year and built up his experience working with community website Sunderland Now.

He had completed a course on teaching English as a foreign language and the former King Edward VI School pupil was set to attend an interview in January for a post in Japan.

Mark, 17, said: “Lee was such a loving person and he always had time for people.

“He has touched so many people’s lives and the outpouring of messages and condolences from his friends and the people he met has been phenomenal. Words can’t describe how much they have meant to the family.

“He will be sorely missed and over the last couple of weeks, a lot of the people who knew him well at university have been along to the house.

“I loved Lee a lot and I loved spending time with him. We bonded whilst watching movies together.

“Like any sibling relationship, we would argue at times, but I have countless memories where I can say I’m proud of my brother and I always looked up to him.

“I now need to live a life that would make Lee proud.

“He was very passionate about becoming a journalist and he was so happy when he qualified.

“Lee was very close to the drama teachers at KEVI and he took part in the school production of Bugsy Malone. I’ve spoken to them and other teachers at the school and they are all devastated.

“He was going to turn 24 on the weekend after he died. A cottage in Beadnell had been booked by a group of his friends for another friend’s birthday and whilst there, they released balloons and lanterns to celebrate the lives of Lee and Gary.”

“He enjoyed going abroad and he found working at a hotel in a mountain area of Switzerland a great experience. Gary came out to join him for the last few weeks.

“He was also an inspirational person and lots of people have been inspired by him to do new things.”

Lee’s funeral is taking place today (Thursday) at St James’ Church, Copper Chare, from 10.30am. Donations, in lieu of flowers, can be made to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Gary, who loved to travel, was also a former KEVI student and he completed a degree in events management at Leeds Beckett University earlier this year.

His funeral was held at St George’s United Reformed Church on Tuesday and those who attended were asked to wear something yellow or a flash of yellow – his favourite colour. Donations, in lieu of flowers, were made to the Institute of Transplantation at the Freeman Hospital.

Gary’s brother David said: “Everyone loved Gary. He was such a happy lad and he had an infectious personality.

“Once he met somebody, he touched a part of their heart.

“He adored his four nieces and they adored him.

“He visited half the world and enjoyed each of his trips abroad.

“For example, he travelled to South Africa, did some volunteering with the university at a village in Fiji and spent most of his year out in the middle of his degree working at a hostel in Peru.

“Gary’s attitude to life was that if you wanted to do something, go ahead and do it – this led to many spur-of-the-moment choices such as a couple of months ago when he decided to take the following few days as work holiday days and go to Turkey.

“Hundreds of people, locally and from all over the world, have either sent us cards and messages or posted their condolences on his Facebook page.

“One girl said she only met him for 12 hours, but she could never forget him.

“He treated his friends like family and many of them have been along to the house. He loved all sorts of music and was really into the Goo Goo Dolls and The Script.”

“We would like to thank everyone who has sent condolences to the family and posted messages for their support. We’ve been quite overwhelmed with the responses.”