TRIBUTES have been paid to a “good, old-fashioned GP” who died while climbing a mountain in Scotland.

A champion for the elderly, Dr Ian James was known as a pillar of the community in Edgworth and Bolton.

Dr James was also known for his love of the countryside and for driving his classic car — a blue 1975 Mk1 Ford Granada GXL — which will today lead his funeral procession.

The 64-year-old died suddenly after suffering a heart attack while climbing Ben Challum with his brother on April 30. His wife, Stephanie, said the loss was “devastating” for everyone who knew him.

“Ian was known for his total reliability and goodness,“ said Mrs James.

“He was just a good, old-fashioned GP. He was totally dedicated to his job and always put his patients first.

“Ian was also very well known in the community and liked to take up issues for people who were not able to fight for themselves.

“When he wasn’t working, he loved the simple life. He loved his wood-burning stove and walking in the countryside. I suppose he was quite private — a real family man. We are devastated by the loss.”

Dr James was born in London and studied medicine at the University of Manchester. He moved to Australia, where he worked at a children’s hospital in Sydney.

It was when he started working in the Australian outback — which meant flying by aeroplane to see patients — that he found his calling in general practice.

Dr James moved back to the UK in 1979 and met his wife, who worked as a nurse at Hope Hospital in Salford.

The couple moved to Bolton a year later when Dr James took the opportunity to become a senior partner at Spring House Surgery in Chorley Old Road.

Dr and Mrs James settled in their home in Chapeltown Road, Edgworth, where they lived with their two sons, Glen and Alastair.

Yet the GP was forced into early retirement after falling from a ladder and suffering a severe head injury in 2011.

Mrs James, aged 64, added: “He made a remarkable recovery from the accident, but it was very hard at times.

“The most difficult thing is that he had worked so hard for years and was really looking forward to retirement.”

Dr James’ funeral will be held at 1pm today at St Anne’s Church in Turton.