A funeral service for Ian will be held at Holy Trinity Church in Gateshead (next to the stadium) at 1.30pm on Monday, February 6.
The service will be followed by a wake at the SoL from 4pm, which anyone who knew Ian is welcome to attend. The family has requested anyone attending at the Stadium to wear red, football shirts or bright colours.
If you knew Ian, please come along and pay your respects and wear your colours for Lawsy.
I feel bad that I've waited all this time to pay my respects to Ian on the board but having been a close friend of his for over 20 years it has been tremendously difficult to accept that I'm never going to see him again.
I used to stand with him on the Roker End in the Smith/Crosby/Butcher/Buxton/Reid era and then sat alongside him and his brother in the North Stand of the SOL until he deserted us to take up his dream job as sports reporter at The Sunderland Echo.
It is true that he spent one season supporting our "friends" up the road (this was before I knew him so don't blame me for that). I think it was a lad called Mark Wayman that led him astray but he was only a schoolkid at the time and he soon realised the error of his ways so I think we can let him off.
Lawsy was as passionate a Sunderland fan as you could expect to meet. Every time we won his face would light up and there was no removing that beaming smile from his face. However, he took defeats really badly and I learned pretty quickly to give him a wide berth when things didn't go our way. Thankfully he was in the press box and not sitting near me during the 19 and 15 point seasons. I think he would have been unbearable then.
Knowing how much SAFC meant to him and how passionate he was on matchdays it always surprised me that he managed to keep his cool in the press box as, when he was on the terraces, each blatant miss, incorrect refereeing decision or bad tackle by an opponent was met by a volley of abuse from Ian. I guess that proves how good he was at his job
He was a smashing lad, always there when you needed him and always able to brighten up any situation with his extremely dry sense of humour. We were drinking buddies for many years and often I would come back from the bar to see someone talking to him. At the end of their conversation when the other person walked away I would ask "Who was that?". Quite often he would reply "Don't know Bri, never met them before in my life. They just recognised me from The Echo." I think that sums him up - he was just as happy talking to complete strangers as he was people he had known most of his life.
I've spent quite a bit of time with Ian's family since he passed away and although they are, unsurprisingly, completely devastated they have taken great comfort from the huge number of tributes that have been paid to him on a wide range of websites and social media. I would particularly like to thank Graeme Anderson and Martin Emmerson for the lovely words they wrote about him.
As Echoboy has stated the funeral is next Monday and if anyone can't make it through to Gateshead for the church service there will be a short service at Sunderland Crematorium at 3pm followed by a celebration of his life (I think that's better than calling it a wake) at the SOL from 4pm. His wife told me this afternoon that she hopes as many people who knew Ian as possible can attend this as it is a fantastic gesture by Sunderland Football Club and a great opportunity to share memories and stories of Lawsy.