TRIBUTES have been paid to a respected Bolton Councillor who has died following a battle with cancer.

Hulton Councillor Alan Walsh passed away in his sleep last night at Bolton Hospice at the age of 81.

He was popular and respected member of the council, having served the Hulton ward continuously for the Conservative party since he was first elected in 2000.

Prior to his life in politics he was known for his work in the plumbing industry in Bolton.

Sadly, it is likely that during his 50 year career working in plumbing — as well as in heating and construction — he will have been exposed to asbestos, which subsequently led to him being diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in later life.

After being diagnosed with the terminal illness in 2013, the thoughtful Cllr Walsh decided he wanted to use what time he had left to help others in need and in the lead up to his 80th birthday last year he raised more than £800 to donate to Bolton Hospice.

He was admired on all sides of the political divide and in his final appearance at a full council meeting in December he was awarded the title of Honorary Alderman for the borough — which is an honour normally reserved for retired council members.

His party leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh paid tribute to a "man of great integrity."

He said: "It is very sad news to hear that my colleague Cllr Alan Walsh has lost his courageous fight against cancer.

"He was a man of great integrity, he was a straight talking, hard working and well respected councillor who respresented the people of Hulton with great dedication.

"He will be sadly missed."

Heaton and Lostock Cllr Andy Morgan previously served alongside Cllr Walsh in the Hulton ward and described him as a “genuinely nice man” as well as an “excellent councillor.”

He said: “Alan was quite an unassuming man, he didn’t pontificate about things, he just got them done.

“He was absolutely full of knowledge and was very good in his work on planning — but he never blew his own trumpet.

“He was one of the people who got me in to politics and I will always be grateful for that.”

He added: “He loved Bolton and served Hulton and will be very sorely missed.”

Former councillor and Bolton FM presenter Phil Ashcroft was also a ward councillor colleague, he said: “Alan was a great friend and was very, very loyal.

“He offered great guidance for me and Andy and would stop us going off on tangents, he was very wise.”

Astley Bridge councillor John Walsh was a long-term friend and knew Cllr Walsh for more than 40 years.

He said: “This is a great loss for Bolton Council and for me it is a loss of a personal friend.

“Alan served the authority assidulously and before that was a well-known businessman.”

He added: “He was a season ticket holder at Bolton Wanderers and even in our last conversation he was picking up on the team’s performance.”

Cllr Walsh leaves behind his wife Mavis and children James and Christabel.