TRIBUTES have been paid to a Westhoughton charity supporter who died while his final fundraiser was taking place.

Joe Hart, aged 68, lost his short fight with pancreatic cancer on April 20 — Easter Sunday — while friends were raising more than £3,000 for Macmillan nurses.

A former bricklayer, Mr Hart’s events raised tens of thousands of pounds for various charities and he was awarded a civic medal in December for his efforts in Westhoughton over the past 20 years.

Friends said he had been looking forward to attending Joe’s Easter Bash at the Victoria Inn.

There was a standing ovation in recognition of his work — when the sad news of his death came through.

Westhoughton Town Council observed a minute’s silence in Mr Hart’s memory at a meeting on May 19.

Between 200 and 300 people attended a packed funeral service at St John’s, Wingates on May 2.

Mr Hart leaves behind wife Mavis, as well as four children, five grand-children and one great-grandchild.

Mrs Hart said: “Joe loved his family and was very popular. I think West-houghton shut down for the day for his funeral. He was a jolly person, always laughing and singing about the place and loved a flutter on the horses.”

Mr Hart was born in Wingates on May 23, 1945, and would have celebrated his 69th birthday tomorrow.

He featured in The Bolton News most recently on March 8 after raising £1,200 for Westhoughton mayor Cllr Christopher Peacock’s chosen charity Bolton Hospice.

Cllr Peacock, for Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, said: “Joe will be greatly missed by all his friends and family and my thoughts are with them at this incredibly difficult time.

"He was an amazing person and touched so many hearts and I am absolutely honoured to have known him.”

Cllr David Chadwick, for Westhoughton South, said: “Joe was a lovely man with a heart of gold. Westhoughton has clearly lost a man who worked so hard for the town and his family can be truly proud.”

Friend and fellow fundraiser Maggie Dee said: “When we held the minute’s silence, you could hear a pin drop. Only that morning, he was saying how he would try his best to get down. He was a wonderful man who will be missed.”