TRIBUTES have been paid to Lord Adam Patel, an Honorary Doctor of the University of Bolton, who has died at the age of 78.

The Labour Peer, who settled in Blackburn in 1965, had suffered a long illness.

He died on Wednesday and was buried at Pleasington Cemetery in the town yesterday.

He was one of first Asian and Muslim members of the House of Lords when he was given a peerage in 2000.

Lord Patel received an Honorary Fellowship in 2000 at Bolton Institute of Higher Education.

To celebrate the installation of the University of Bolton’s first Chancellor, Baroness Trish Morris, in 2010 he was awarded Honorary Doctorate of Social Science in 2010.

It was in recognition of his outstanding contribution to race relations and the Muslim community.

Lord Patel was a founder member of many organisations including the Blackburn Community Relations Council and the Lancashire Council Mosques.

Former Blackburn MP and Labour Cabinet minister Jack Straw said: “Adam’s family have lost their rock, the Muslim communities a devout leader, Lancashire a great representative, and I have lost a dear friend.

"I knew Adam for over forty years. I loved him. He was an extraordinary person who worked tirelessly to honour his faith and to ensure that the south Asian communities in the UK embraced their British heritage too."

Lord Patel ran a clothing company. Married in 1964, he had four sons and four daughters.

Blackburn MP Kate Hollern said: “I am saddened by the passing of a great man."