BOLTON Council leader David Greenhalgh was a much-loved “friend to many”.

A ward councillor for the Conservatives in Bromley Cross since 2006, Cllr Greenhalgh was greatly respected and had many friends both inside the town hall and throughout the wider Bolton community.

Born on Christmas Day 1967, the theatre fanatic was elected to be borough leader in 2019.

As an individual he will be greatly missed by many, and it will take some time for the Bolton community and the town hall to come to terms with the sudden loss.

Cllr Greenhalgh stood up for Bolton as he led the town through the pandemic over the last 18 months, holding the Government to account as the borough was plunged into seemingly continuous lockdowns, more than anywhere else in the country.

He was a constant champion for the town, ensuring Bolton had strong leadership through what has been some of the toughest times in the borough’s history.

Some three decades ago, a young David was chosen to star in Les Miserables on the West End stage - but his big break was wrecked by illness. He later swapped the theatre for the town hall. But in 2019 for one night only, he took to the stage once again as he joined performers for a evening of music at the Albert Halls to raise money for charities backed by the-then mayor Cllr Hilary Fairclough.

Speaking at the time, he said: “The tragedy for me was I had just got into ‘Les Mis’ - it was probably my first big break. I had done quite a lot of touring and I was just coming into the West End, and got the part of Grantaire in Les Mis. I had just literally started rehearsals and then unfortunately I started to feel ill.”

Tests revealed he had end-stage renal failure and he was admitted to hospital. He returned to London and together with fellow performers started to do comedy cabaret, performing in some of the best hotels in London.

He later made the decision to leave the stage because of ill-health and family reasons.

He said: “There are very few people who could have made me sing again. But Hilary - we are very close friends - asked if I would do it for her charity.”