WATCH: Hundreds turn out for funeral of popular cadet volunteer

Hundreds of people turned out to bid a fond farewell to a popular air cadet volunteer.

Air cadets formed a guard of honour at the funeral of inspirational volunteer and mentor Brian Luke, who devoted 63 years of his life to the youth organisation.

Funeral of Brian Luke who volunteered for  63 years with 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron Air Training Corps. 
 Picture by Jane Coltman

Funeral of Brian Luke who volunteered for 63 years with 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron Air Training Corps. Picture by Jane Coltman

Nearly 200 people turned out at Tynemouth Crematorium on Tuesday.

Cadets from 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron ATC – the unit the grandfather of two served with from 1954 until his death earlier this month at the age of 77 – were joined by colleagues from 1156 (Whitley Bay) and 131 (City of Newcastle) squadrons.

With guests filling the chapel, scores of mourners stood and listened outside as the emotional 25 minute service led by 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron Padre, the Rev Michael Vine, was relayed via loudspeakers.

Funeral-goers heard how Mr Luke – who leaves a widow, Margaret, two children, and two grandchildren – had nurtured generations of air cadets and his memory would live on in the impact he had made.

Brian Luke, who has died after serving with 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron ATC for 63 years. Picture by NCJ Media.

Brian Luke, who has died after serving with 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron ATC for 63 years. Picture by NCJ Media.

The Rev Vine said: “A lot of you think of Brian as ‘The Boss’ of 346, but he was most importantly a family man and he never forgot he needed quality time with his wife and children.”

Mr Luke had started as a 14-year-old with 346, moving seamlessly from a cadet to a volunteer Civilian Instructor, before going into uniform, reaching the rank of Warrant Officer (ATC).

On his retirement from uniform in 1995 Mr Luke returned as a volunteer Civilian Instructor.

The Rev Vine read out a tribute from 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron’s current Officer Commanding, Flt Lt Dan Laidler, which said: “One of the first people I met when I joined 346 five years ago was Brian. I was told that he had been here forever, and it turns out that he had! During the years I have been here, Brian has been a real stalwart of the Squadron.

“We nicknamed him ‘The Boss,’ as I couldn’t do anything without running it past Brian first because he knew the Squadron, the cadets, and everything about the ATC. His 63 years of service made him a fountain of knowledge.”

“As a person he was so amiable. He got on well with everyone whether they were a 12 year old cadet or an adult member of staff. Brian engaged with everybody and you couldn’t help but like him.

“He wasn’t looking for anything himself, only to help young people trying to find their way in life. He devoted himself to offering them a better future, and despite his failing health, Brian continued to do all he could for our cadets.

“I, the staff, and cadets, are all devastated at his passing. Brian’s loss will be immeasurable.

“But his legacy lives on in the many thousands of cadets he has inspired over the last 63 years, and whose dreams he helped take flight.”

The haunting notes of The Last Post brought the funeral to an end.

Following the service, Flt Lt Laidler said: “It has been a privilege for our cadets to form the guard of honour today, for them to be able to pay their own tribute, and to be able to say goodbye to a much loved member of 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron.

“But it is to his family that our thoughts and prayers are directed at this sad time. We thank them for allowing Brian to be a part of our lives.”