TRIBUTES have been paid to a leading trade union official and Bolton College officer who has died suddenly at the age of just 57.

Graham Walmsley died on Sunday morning, with his wife Steph and daughter Leanne at his hospital bedside.

Mr Walmsley, who lived with his family in Heaton, served as the Branch Chairman of Bolton Unison and was an exams administrator at Bolton College.

Devastated colleagues paid tribute to the "highly respected and true professional".

Branch secretary of Unison, Andrea Egan described him as 'one of the best' .

She said: "He was a genuinely lovely man, our movement has lost one of the best.

"He is going to be so missed, we are all reeling from the shock of what has happened."

Mr Walmsley died after suddenly collapsing at home on Saturday. He had spent the day with his family.

"Other than a short illness with covid a couple of months ago he has been in good health. He recovered from that well," said Mrs Egan," He chaired a branch committee for us on Thursday, and he was laughing and joking."

The Bolton News:

(Graham as part of a joint union "Love Our Colleges" lobby of Parliament on 17th October 2018 calling for better funding of Further Education)

Mrs Egan described him as an excellent union official and a good friend.

She said: "He was very welcoming and happy. He was a loyal trade unionist and a dutiful branch chair.

"Activists in Bolton UNISON have been completely shocked and devastated at the heart breaking news.

"Graham will be deeply missed by all those who knew him. Our thoughts are very much with Graham’s family”.

Graham represented Bolton UNISON as a delegate to Bolton Trades Union Council and was due to represent the branch at this years National Delegate Conference due to be held from 15th June.  

Mr Walmsley also served on Unison's Further Education and Higher Education regional committee.

As well as being a committed trade unionist and family man, he was also a devoted fan of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and a keen Bolton Wanderers supporter.

Mrs Egan added: "His work colleague Becky Davison, a steward, described Graham as a good friend and colleague to her.

"She said he was her mentor and left a massive void. Becky said he was kind hearted so funny and he helped shape her life as steward."

A Bolton College spokesman said : "Graham worked at Bolton College for 35 years and he was a key member of our exams team however as Unison representative for the college, his reach and impact across the college was very wide and his loss will be felt very deeply by so many of us within our college community.

“Graham was highly respected, a true professional, helpful and supportive to so many people and a real advocate for members of his union. The staff at the college are deeply shocked by Graham’s sudden passing and his loss will be felt greatly. The college is in contact with Graham’s family and offering support at this very difficult time.”