Tributes to ‘champion of charity’
Sunday 11th September 2016 @ 07:00 by Nigel Skinner

CONVOY OF HAPPINESS: Tameside children and parents set off on one of the many excursions organised by the charity.

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to Tameside ‘champion of charity’ Eunice Whittle, who has passed away aged 79.

Eunice, from Dukinfield, was founder and chair of the Tameside-based Convoy of Happiness charity.

She was still an active member of the charity, which has organised trips for children with special needs, illnesses and disabilities throughout Tameside and beyond for years.

Tributes from friends and families she helped have poured in for Eunice, hailed for her tireless work and love for children and for raising awareness about autism.

The charity’s Debbie Grimshaw said: “Eunice was an incredible lady who did a tremendous amount of fundraising for The Christie and Convoy, providing day trips for special needs and disabled children in Tameside.

“Everyone who was anyone in Tameside knew of her and the Reporter were always in attendance along with the Mayor when we did a day trip.”

Debbie, who works at Brother UK, added: “I first met Eunice in 2012 and was in complete awe of her energy and outstanding contribution to fundraising.

“She was a champion of charity and community causes, a kind and giving lady whose energy, passion and determination to make a difference was infectious. So infectious you couldn’t help but want to assist her in her marvellous work.

“Supporting children with autism and disabilities was very close to her heart and she dedicated her life to Convoy.

“Her loss will leave an enormous hole in the heart of Tameside and I along with many others will miss her terribly.”

Ronnie Lyne, who started off the Convoy charity with Eunice and worked alongside her at the charity for many years, said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to have known and worked with a remarkable lady… her friendship and love was extra special and something I will never forget.”

Phil Jones MBE, Managing Director, at Brother UK, described her as “a magical human being with a massive heart who did so much for others with her tireless energy and fundraising”.

While Alan Havery and Barrie Aitken at The Leading Edge hair salon in Hyde, supporters of the charity, said they were privileged to have known Eunice.

“She was a passionate and very thoughtful person who always thought about the welfare and wellbeing of all who she supported before she considered herself,” they said.

Close friend Tameside Councillor Jackie Lane said: “Eunice was absolutely dedicated and it’s a very, very sad day. She was committed and full of compassion. My prayers and my thoughts go out to her family; her children and grandchildren, and all those children she stood up for.”

Her funeral was held at Dukinfield Crematorium, followed by a celebration of her life at The Astley Arms, Chapel Street, in Dukinfield. Donations were made to the Convoy charity with £315 raised in her memory. The money will help fund a weekend trip to Flamingoland in October which Eunice had been planning for 10 families.

The funeral cortège was escorted by some of the original bikers who began the Convoy of Happiness.

The charity originally got its name due to the long convoy of limos used when the charity first began and which took the children to their trip destinations – all provided for by local drivers, although today Convoy uses a specially adapted large coach.