Fond tributes to church pioneer

Alan Niel
Alan Niel

TRIBUTES have poured in following the death of a well-known Scarborough Reverend.

The Rev Alan Niel, 80, died peacefully at his home in Fieldside on November 1 from liver failure.

He was the minister at the Assemblies of God Pentecostal church in Seamer Road, and had lived in the town for around 20 years.

His son Mark has spoken warmly about his father, who he said “always had a laugh, a joke and a smile” for anyone.

Mr Niel was born in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, in 1931. The seventh of nine children, after leaving school he joined the Merchant Navy as an engineer and as a driver before leaving to join ICI in Redcar,

A lifelong Christian, he met his late wife Mary at a church event, before marrying in 1959. They went on to have three children, Mark, Paul and Alan, and Mark said that one of his father’s biggest passions was the driving force behind his (Mark’s) future career path.

Mark is currently making a name for himself as a successful performance poet, which he attributed to his dad’s love for entertainment.

He said: “I remember he would always do little musical turns whenever he had the chance. He loved singing and it had a lot of influence over the family. I think it certainly inspired me to perform.”

His love for music transcended just family gatherings. He sang with the Filey Fishermen’s Choir, and only five weeks ago visited Holland as part of a tour with the group.

He also lent his voice to the Singing Vicars group, regularly putting on concerts throughout Scarborough.

Other passions included his collection of vintage cars, which he loaned out for use in TV shows including Heartbeat and The Royal. He also made a cameo appearance in the film Little Voice.

However, along with his family, the church was his biggest passion. He pioneered the Pentecostal movement in Scarborough, and worked at the church right up to his death.

A funeral service will take place at Woodlands Crematorium tomorrow at 10.30am. It will be followed by a memorial event entitled Tea, Tribute and Turns, which will take place at the Grand Hotel.

It will also feature a performance from Filey Fishermen’s Choir.