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Military funeral for sergeant major who enjoyed a passion for cars

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A Armyrats © MILITARY funeral was held to honour Gordon Smith, who served with the Territorial Army for 32 years. He was a sergeant major attached to the Royal Anglian Regiment and had the Union flag draped over his coffin at a service held at Grimsby Crematorium. It was attended by scores of mourners, representing the TA, the Royal British Legion, the MG car club of Lincolnshire and former work colleagues.

The coffin was carried in to the tune of Elgar’s Nimrod.

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The 72-year-old died at his home in Great Coates Road after several years of ill health, his wife Sylvia told. She said she had been comforted by the scores of messages of sympathy, bouquets of flowers and wreaths including those from the MG car club and the Royal British legion.

Armyrats © Military Funeral For Sergeant Major Who Enjoyed A Passion For Cars

Gordon Smith, centre, with his shooting team trophy.

He was the Poppy Appeal organiser in Grimsby for six years. Sylvia said: “When he became unemployed he was asked if he would help out with the Poppy Appeal for a few months. He was still doing it six years later.

“He achieved so much in his life. He helped so many people. Someone only had to ring up and ask for assistance with their car or some advice and he was off to help.”

She told how cars were his great passion in life which started when he bought his first car aged 19 years. He named the MG TD, Katy. Gordon studied at Grimsby Technical School and later worked at Laportes and National Cash Register. Sylvia said: “He was very good with his hands which is something our youngest son Ted has inherited.”

She told how her husband also played hockey for Grimsby, and how he won a trophy for his shooting skills in the TA in 1983.

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While training in the TA he became an instructor on the carriage and handling of hazardous materials. The skills he learned were later used when he and friend Graham Proud set up North Lindsey Training Services, a successful and respected company which trained hundreds of drivers. He performed the role until he retired in 2007.

She added: “His over-riding love were his MG cars and all the friends he made from the group. He has photo albums full of photos of his cars and their parts rarely of any people.”

Rallies at Gunby Hall and the annual New Year’s Day run at Woodhall Spa were some of the highlights of Gordon’s calendar. He appeared in the Grimsby Telegraph in 1998 when his 1951 MG TD which he bought in 1963 crashed at Caistor. It cost 8,000 to restore it with the help of specialists at Orchard Garage in Brigsley. Gordon was determined to get it back on the road because it was the car in which he proposed to Sylvia.

He ran it every day until 1971 when he was issued with his first company car and then took Katy apart and rebuilt her in ivory over 15 years. Her jaunts have included several Beaujolais runs in aid of St Andrew’s Hospice. The funeral service closed to the song Baby Let’s Drive by Neil Diamond.

He is survived by Sylvia, sons Rob and Ted and grandchildren Millie-Anne and Caleb.

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