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Death occurs of Dean of Belfast, Jack Shearer
Dean Shearer's last collection as Black Santa was his most successful
 real 56k

Saturday, 13 January, 2001, 18:10 GMT
Dean dies after short illness
Black Santa
Dean Jack Shearer collected more than 2m as 'Black Santa'
Tributes have been paid to the Dean of Belfast, Dr Jack Shearer, who has died after a short illness.

Dean Shearer, who raised over 400,000 in his annual Black Santa sit-out at St Anne's Cathedral before Christmas, died on Saturday.

The 74-year-old clergyman suffered a heart attack on New Year's Eve.

He had raised more than 2m in the 14 years he had undertaken the traditional weeklong fast in the Christmas run-up period.

Dean Shearer had been due to retire in May of this year.

Tributes were led by Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames.

Archbishop Robin Eames
Archbishop Robin Eames: Dean Shearer was a close friend
Dr Eames spoke of his "great personal regret" on hearing the news.

"I want to pay a very warm tribute to the ministry of Jack Shearer whose leadership and influence during his time as Dean of Belfast was immense.

"He inspired us all by the way in which he dealt with so many problems, the way in which he inspired the whole community each Christmas."

Tributes were also paid by First Minister David Trimble and Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon.

Mr Trimble said the Dean had brought out the best in people each Christmas.

"How fitting it was that his last wintery vigil should be his finest.

"The tradition of `Black Santa' is here to stay and I know that Jack's successor will be supported with equal enthusiasm by everyone in Northern Ireland."

Mr Mallon described Dean Shearer as a considerate and generous man.

"His dedication to the church and the tremendous contribution he made right across the community here will be sadly missed."

Dr Shearer's funeral is to take place on Wednesday at St Anne's Cathedral.

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18 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Black Santa begins charity sit-out
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26 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
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