Tributes have been paid to former Mayor of Bolton Noel Spencer whose death has been announced today.

The former RAF medic, who was also an engineer by trade, was first elected to Bolton Council more than half a century ago in 1970.

Well known for his work representing Farnworth, Alderman Spencer, born in 1939, was also renowned for his passion for housing.

Bolton Council leader Cllr Nick Peel said: “He was an amazingly popular local councillor with his constituents and also much further afield.

“He worked especially hard on housing, going the extra mile to help families in Bolton.”

He added: “He was a great ambassador for Bolton as Mayor but there was also another side to Noel as a great raconteur.

“He was a brilliant Sinatra impersonator and could finish of meetings with some wonderful performances.”

The Bolton News: Mayor and Mayoress Noel and Alice SpencerMayor and Mayoress Noel and Alice Spencer (Image: Bolton Council)

Alderman Spencer severed as Mayor of Bolton from 2011 to 2012 alongside his Mayoress Alice Spencer.

Over the course of his career his roles also included chairman of the housing committee, executive member for housing, chair of the North West Housing Forum and chair of Bolton at Home.

His dedication to making sure the people of Bolton were properly housed earned him the appointment of honorary president for life of Bolton at Home, the borough’s biggest housing group.

Former chief executive of Bolton at Home Jon Lord said he worked with Alderman Spencer for many years and considered him a personal friend.

Mr Lord said: “I worked with Noel for 30 odd years and I found him to be one of the best people I ever worked with.

“He was very generous, very kind.

“He was very kind with tenants but he was also highly respected regionally as a very astute politician.”

Former long serving Little Lever and Darcy Lever councillor Sean Horby was another to remember Alderman Spencer's personal and political qualities.

He said: "A great Councillor and Mayor of Bolton, a great Ambassador to Bolton at Home and a good friend.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

"We will miss his funny stories, especially about the Duke Paul Parry."

Alderman Spencer was awarded an MBE for Services to Social Housing in 2007 and made an honorary alderman in 2018.

Executive cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Marin Donaghy said: “Noel Spencer was a giant in the local Labour Party, he did what it said on the box.

“He stood for the people, he loved the people and the impact of that is that the people loved him.

“When the impact of this is fully known across the borough there will be people queuing up to pay their respects.”

He added: “We at the moment are mourning the loss of a great friend and comrade and at our churches this weekend we will be praying for him.”

The former Mayor was also well know for the guidance he gave to newer members of the council in recent years.

Tonge with the Haulgh’s Cllr Emily Mort said: “Although I only met Noel in his later years after retirement, he always made me feel welcome whenever we met.

“He is someone any young and aspiring politician should look up to.”