Mourners burst into spontaneous applause as tribute to former Wakefield MP Walter HarrisonMP

Walter Harrison given Freedom or the City April 2003

Walter Harrison given Freedom or the City April 2003

0
Have your say

A MOVING funeral celebrated the life of former city MP Walter Harrison.

People from all over the country gathered at St Helen’s Church, in Sandal, to mourn the death of the former Government whip, who was Wakefield’s MP from 1964 until 1987.

Funeral of former MP, Walter Harrison, held at St Helen's church, Sandal.'w305a245

Funeral of former MP, Walter Harrison, held at St Helen's church, Sandal.'w305a245

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, former Labour MP and former Speaker Betty Boothroyd, and several current MPs and councillors were among those attending.

The Government’s senior whip Greg Knight was present to represent the Prime Minister David Cameron.

Onward Christian Soldiers was sung at Mr Harrison’s request.

And David Hinchliffe, who succeeded Mr Harrison as Wakefield’s MP, and has often credited him as an inspiration, delivered an emotional eulogy which was humorous in parts.

The Red Flag, an anthem of the British Labour Party, was played as Mr Harrison’s coffin was carried from the church.

Mary Creagh MP said the funeral was uplifting as well as moving, with guests breaking into applause after Mr Hinchliffe’s eulogy and again as the coffin was carried from the church.

She said: “There was a lot of singing. The applause at the end was very special.”

His son Bob Harrison, 61, said: “This was a celebration of my dad’s life, and he was really well supported by family, friends and colleagues.”

Mr Harrison died on Friday, October 19, aged 91.

He was the Labour government’s deputy chief whip from 1974 to 1979, and was seen by many to have played a crucial role in keeping James Callaghan’s government in power during the 1970s.

Despite the demands of the role, he was known for his unwavering commitment to constituents in Wakefield.

He continued to support the city in his retirement and was granted Freedom of the City in 2003.