More than 100 people lined the street yesterday afternoon to pay their respects as the funeral cortege passed for Jim Newstead who was one of Keswick’s last surviving second world war veterans.
Jim, 94, had seen active service across Northern Europe as a teenage soldier with the British Army late in the 1939-45 conflict and for the last 10 years of his life had been president of the Keswick branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL).
To many, the father-of-five, who died just a week before the 75th anniversary of VE Day, will be remembered as Keswick’s “Poppy Man” as every year he put on his medals and collected donations at Booths supermarket in the town for the annual remembrance day appeal.
Staff from the supermarket came out to join local residents as the hearse departed from outside Jim’s home at Greta Gardens on Thursday afternoon before a private funeral at Carlisle Crematorium. Also present in good numbers were local RBL members and Cumbria’s RBL’s standard bearer, who held the flag high as a mark of respect.
Ryan Swindale, chairman of the Keswick RBL, said: “It was a very moving occasion. All members of our branch were on parade and there was also Keswick mayor Cllr David Burn and representatives of the town council, as well as family, friends and people around the town who knew and respected Jim. He will be fondly remembered by so many as Keswick’s Poppy Man.”
Norfolk-born Jim was just 13 when the second world war broke out but had become a sergeant in the Welch Regiment by the time it concluded, having been in Germany on VE Day on 8th May 1945. He moved to Carlisle after the war and relocated to Keswick 18 years ago, having also lived at Castlehead Close in the town.
Town councillors observed a minute’s silence for Jim during their virtual meeting last night.
A celebration of Jim’s life will be held at St John’s Church in Keswick at a later date after coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been lifted