BOLTON was at one in celebration of the life of its late council leader David Greenhalgh on Friday.

Hundreds of Cllr Greenhalgh’s family and friends, as well as colleagues from across the political spectrum, gathered at the parish church for the 11am funeral service.

Earlier the hearse had stopped outside the Town Hall on Victoria Square, drawing respectful silence then applause from onlookers.

The service, led by the Vicar of Bolton, Rev Canon Dr Chris Bracegirdle, saw tributes to Cllr Greenhalgh from Cllr Martyn Cox, Cllr Hilary Fairclough and Metro Mayor Andy Burnham.

In a light-hearted speech, Cllr Cox relived Cllr Greenhalgh’s rise to becoming Bolton Council’s first Conservative Party leader in nearly 40 years, as well as his ‘heroic’ leadership during the pandemic.

In a nod to Cllr Greenhalgh’s stage background, he said: “It was a heroic performance. The role of his life.”

Cllr Fairclough’s speech was a highly emotional one, focusing on Cllr Greenhalgh’s life outside of politics.

Calling Cllr Greenhalgh a ‘great actor’ and a ‘wonderful singer’, she lamented the "cruel twist of fate" which saw him retire from his stage career with kidney failure. But the councillor celebrated the new career this opened up to him.

Returning to politics, Mr Burnham recalled Cllr Greenhalgh’s response to joining the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s cabinet at a time when all of its other members belonged to the Labour Party.

He was struck by the strength of character of the late council leader, who he described as ‘Bolton to a tee’.

He said: “He was a formidable champion of this place.

“He always put Bolton first. A true son of this town.”

These tributes were followed by readings from Cllr Samantha Connor, Bolton Council’s chief executive Tony Oakman and Cllr Nadim Muslim, as well as music from singer Sarah Dover.

Finally, Canon Dr Bracegirdle made his address.

Finding a common thread between all of the tributes, the address praised Cllr Greenhalgh’s courage in the face of political opposition, health issues and much more.

It also stressed the impact of Cllr Greenhalgh’s work not only in Bolton, but across the whole country.

Dr Bracegirdle said: “His legacy is firmly rooted in this town and well beyond.”

The service over, Cllr Greenhalgh’s coffin was borne out of the parish church and back into the hearse to the sound of bagpipes and drums.

Bolstered by onlookers who had been listening to the service on speakers, a crowd formed outside the church to share their fond memories of Cllr Greenhalgh and offer their last respects.

The procession left the church at 12.45pm for a private committal at Overdale Crematorium.