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Emotional farewell to former mayor and 'Mr Wednesbury' Bill Archer

By Megan Archer | Wednesbury | News | Published: | Last Updated:

"Legend, a pillar of the community, a man of the people."

Bill Archer

These were just some of the many words used to describe husband, father, and former Sandwell mayor Bill Archer at his funeral this morning.

St Bartholomew's Church in Wednesbury was packed with family, friends and members of the public, all wishing to say goodbye to an 'amazing man' and councillor after he died on June 2 aged 91.

Members of the Royal British Legion, as Mr Archer had been a soldier in the Second World War, led the coffin into the church – while the song 'Jerusalem' was played throughout the church.

PICTURES from the service

In a eulogy read by Sandwell Council's Phil Challoner, he said: "Words such as 'man of the people', 'legend' and 'pillar of the community', are often overused these days, but not in the case of Bill Archer.

"He wrote to every Prime Minister to fly the flag for Sandwell and highlight serious issues the borough, in particular his beloved Wednesbury, faced.

"Known as the 'singing mayor' Bill raised a 'never to be matched to this day' £35,000 in 2005 and 2006 for his chosen charities Prostate Cancer Research and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

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"Massively respected by politicians from all political parties, council staff, his beloved Wednesbury constituents and the wider Sandwell population there are no words to adequately describe the enormous impact Bill Archer has had as a man, politician and pillar of the community."

Mr Challoner also poignantly sang one of Bill's favourite songs, 'Bring Him Home' from the musical Les Miserables.

And in a touching and emotional moment for all, a recording of Mr Archer himself singing 'If I Could Help Somebody' was played throughout the church.

WATCH: Dozens gather for the funeral

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The funeral service of former Sandwell mayor Bill Archer

A poem was also played to the mourners, detailing Mr Archer's life, read and recorded by notable Wednesbury poet Brendan Hawthorne.

Mr Archer was affectionately known as ‘Mr Wednesbury’ and was a popular and well-known member of the community.

He had been battling prostate cancer for nearly 20 years, during which time he raised £15,000 to open a prostate unit in Sandwell Hospital.

During his 36-year career he served as a Tory councillor and was Sandwell mayor between 2005 and 2006, retiring in 2010, aged 83.

He was also a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and had been married to his wife Freda for more than 70 years.

His daughter, Councillor Elaine Costigan of Wednesbury North, now follows in his footsteps as a voice for the local people.

Following the funeral Councillor Peter Hughes of Wednesbury North said: "I think it was a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. It really captured his life.

Fellow Wednesbury North councillor Luke Giles added: "He was a true Wednesbury man. He would do everything for the people."

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Deputy Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Deputy Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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