A POPULAR district councillor who also had a long career in the fire service has died at the age of 68.

Bob Gale, a well-liked and respected Richmondshire District Councillor, died last week at his home in Arkengarthdale with wife Shirley and their two sons, Richard and Michael, at his bedside.

He had battled against cancer for several months.

Fellow councillors and officers paid tribute to Mr Gale at his funeral held in Arkengarthdale Parish Church on Wednesday, December 18.

A long established parish councillor, he was elected as an Independent to the district council in May 2011, representing Reeth and Arkengarthdale in the Upper Dales.

He also became a member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority - and had a well deserved reputation for standing up for local communities.

District council leader John Blackie said: “It is very rare that a new councillor joining the district council and the National Park becomes as universally popular as Bob did in just 30 months or so, but such was the mark of the man.

“Bob was a thoroughly decent, honourable and courteous person, somebody you could trust, but no pushover when speaking for his ward or the Upper Dales.

“And he was so courageous – he bore his illness with great fortitude despite its severe pain, never once moaning or groaning, or saying why me?

“We shall all miss him greatly, and I personally feel it has been a great privilege for me to know him and work alongside him.”

Born in Otley in 1945, he left school aged 15 to become an apprentice mechanic but he finally chose a career in the fire service aged 19.

He married Shirley in 1968 and the couple had two sons, Richard and Michael.

He continued to serve the community as a retained fireman for many years, and also worked as a part time window cleaner, then later as a mechanic at a friend’s garage on his days off.

His fire service career took him to many fire stations, but he continued to live in Otley. He was Sub Officer at FSHQ at Birkenshaw where he became a Brigade instructor, spent time in the Fire Prevention Dept, became a Station Commander, and a specialist fire investigation officer. Bob retired from the Fire Brigade in 1994, after serving for 31 years.

Shortly before his retirement, he became a member of the Royal Wharfedale Masonic Lodge, and became Master of the Lodge in 2001 - he continued to be a member, despite having moved to Arkengarthdale in 1996.

Moving to the country was a dream come true for the couple who immersed themselves in the Dales life.

Mr Gale joined the parish council, the local walking group, darts and quoits teams. After helping out by cleaning the church windows, word spread and before he knew it he had a window cleaning round which continued for some years, and he later became a director of community centre Hudson House in Reeth.