TRIBUTES have been paid to the former Mayor of Bolton and Alderman, Guy Harkin, who has died.

Colleagues from Bolton Council described Ald Harkin as one of the town's most talented politicians and a charismatic character who will be sadly missed.

Ald Harkin was a prominent figure in Bolton politics for almost four decades and represented the Daubhill and Crompton wards for the Labour Party during this time.

Fellow Crompton ward councillor, Cllr Harif Darvesh, said: "I am saddened and shocked by the sudden loss of Guy and wish to express my condolences to his wife Colette and his family.

"Guy was a councillor in Crompton for 10 years and he was our political heavy weight because of his experience and knowledge.

"From my time in politics I would describe Guy as the most talented, charismatic and articulate politician that Bolton Labour has produced.

"He gained the utmost respect from all politicians across the council chamber and he continued to remain a friend to many of his colleagues."

Bolton Labour leader, Councillor Linda Thomas, added: "We are all shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Guy Harkin our friend and colleague.

"He has given a lifetime of service to Bolton as a councillor, deputy leader, mayor and alderman.

"Guy played a massive part in the life of this town over many years.

"At this time we wish to send our thoughts and prayers to his wife Colette and his family. We are thinking of them."

It is understood that Ald Harkin died at the Royal Bolton Hospital this morning following a short illness.

His Labour colleague, councillor Nick Peel, told The Bolton News: "Guy will be very sadly missed and his death was very unexpected.

"He had left the council only in May last year and retained friendships with many councillors.

"He was a great character with a fantastic sense of humour as well as a really good speaker and extremely articulate man."

Councillor Martin Donaghy, who was first elected to the Daubhill ward at the same time as Ald Harkin in 1980, added: "I am deeply shocked and saddened by Guy's death and my thoughts and prayers are with with his wife, children and the rest of his family.

"Guy was respected by councillors of all parties and I think everyone at this moment is also deeply shocked and saddened."

Tribute to Ald Harkin was also paid by the Bolton UKIP leader, Cllr Sean Hornby.

He said: "As Leader of UKIP on Bolton Council I would like to offer my personal and Party condolences.

"Guy was of the old school of politics, a very nice man a dedicated politician and a great right hand man to Bob Howarth when he was Deputy Leader of the Council.

"A kind man also who during the 1990s when my daughter died aged just 20 months was very supportive.

"I enjoyed working along side him in the Council and will miss those humour he brought at times. "A life work well done and a credit to Bolton"."

Ald Harkin was born in Farnworth and worked as a lecturer in management.

He was first elected as a Labour councillor for the Daubhill ward in 1980 where he served for 24 years, including 21 years as the deputy council leader.

He also occupied positions as the chairman and vice-chairman of Greater Manchester Transport and chairman of North West Employers during this time.

In 1987 he unsuccessfully stood as the Labour parliamentary candidate for the Bolton West constituency.

When the borough's council wards were reorganised in 2004 Ald Harkin lost his seat.

But he was returned to the council for Crompton in 2009 and represented the ward until last year.

Between 2012 and 2013 he served as the Mayor of Bolton, with his wife Colette as Mayoress, and was made an Honourary Alderman in 2019.

Beyond politics, Ald Harkin was a keen rambler, with his favourite walking routes including along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal around Adlington and Wigan.

Bolton Council leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “Guy was respected across all parties as a fine orator, and talented politician.

“A former mayor, he represented the communities of Daubhill and Crompton as a councillor for nearly 40 years. Guy was made an Honorary Alderman in August last year in recognition of his decades of service.

“He brought humour and wit to the Council Chamber as well as considerable political expertise and knowledge.

“His anecdotes, which would have people in stitches, were legendary, but so were his attacks on his opponents.

“When Guy Harkin spoke, you may not always have agreed with it, but you listened. He had a natural presence that you can’t be taught.

“On behalf of the whole Council, our condolences to Colette and the family.”