Tributes have been paid to a true gentleman who placed himself at the heart of his community.

Wilfred Dillon died at the age of 99.

He was a well-known figure in Westhoughton, having worked with Westhoughton Age Support Project (WASP), Westhoughton Visiting Service, the Winifred Kettle home and Sacred Heart RC Church.

Mr Dillon’s work in the community was recognised by the Queen in 2012, being awarded a British Empire Medal.

The retired chef and great-grandfather also received the Pope’s Benemerenti Medal for his services.

Mr Dillon was in the Royal Engineers, serving in Italy and he spent a year with a civilian catering firm in 1940, helping to feed people in Liverpool and Manchester who had been displaced by the blitz.

Cllr Andrea Finney paid tribute to him, saying: “He was very well known within Westhoughton, he was a very good friend to many and will be sorely missed."

Ryan Battersby, Tower Captain of the Westhoughton Tower Bellringers said: "The Westhoughton Bellringers were upset to hear of Mr Dillon’s death. He was well known in Westhoughton, and always had a smile for those he met.

"On the day of his funeral, the tower flag will be lowered to half-mast as a sign of respect for one of Westhoughton’s gentlemen."

Ryan,who is a former Mayor of Westhoughton said: "I knew him for 12 years. He was a very likeable character, always had a smile, always friendly, always interested in you as a person.

"It is a sad loss to the community and as so many people have already commented, being one of Westhoughton's finest gentlemen.

"He would stand proudly outside Sacred Heart Church as the Remembrance Sunday parade came past, proudly displaying his medals, and was always a big part of community events in the town.

"He was always supportive of me and attended charity events to help fundraising.

"He lived a remarkable life and it was an honour to know him."

Mr Dillon was instrumental in organising the fundraising for the building of the new Sacred Heart Church in Westhoughton.

He organised a 26-mile sponsored walk to raise funds for the new church, which was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Patrick Kelly in May, 1995.

His work for the church earned him the honour of receiving the Pope’s Benemerenti medal for services to the Catholic church.

Father Barry Lomax of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Westhoughton, said: “He was a good man.”

“He touched lots of lives, a lot of people will be remembering and praying for him.”