TRIBUTES have been paid to a father of six who died during a pilgrimage to Lourdes.

Michael Shearer, aged 71, suffered a heart attack at the hotel where he was staying with his wife, Helen. He died on Tuesday, August 4.

Mr Shearer’s body is expected to be returned to the country tomorrow.

The couple were visiting France with members of St Edmund’s RC Church in Little Hulton.

His son, Michael Shearer Junior, said: “He was perfectly fine the day before and we had no warning this was going to happen. We are all very shocked.

“We have had hundreds of cards from people passing on their condolences.”

Mr Shearer was born and bred in Walkden. He spent many years as a machine operator for Proctor and Gamble in Trafford Park.

He married Helen in 1950 and the couple had three sons, three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Mr Shearer, of Worsley Avenue, Little Hulton, was a lifelong member of St Edmund’s and secretary of the social club.

He travelled to Lourdes on his fifth annual pilgrimage to act as a carer for other church members.

Father Leo Heakin, of St Edmund’s, said: “It was a great shock when he collapsed. Michael was a great person and a tremendous support to the church. His whole family is involved in the life of the church.”

Mr Shearer was also a lifelong Bolton Wanderers supporter and a well-known cricket umpire in Bolton.

Harold Marshall, Bolton and District Umpire Association chairman, said: “Michael was a real gentleman and one of the nicest people you could come across.

“He gave up umpiring about 10 years ago, but he remained active and would hold a quiz for us. He had a lot of friends in the association.”

Mr Shearer’s funeral will be held at St Edmund’s, although a date has yet to be arranged.