TRIBUTES are being paid to a long-serving councillor who has died at the age of 71.

Rob Johnson, a former chairman of Richmondshire District Council, died in hospital on Wednesday, February 24, after a long illness. He is survived by his widow Teresa.

He retired in 1990 after a distinguished career running children’s homes and children’s centres to buy and develop several nursing homes in the county. And finding himself with time on his hands he was persuaded to stand as a councillor, joining in 2003 and representing the Catterick ward.

Over the next 12 years he was not only a member of many committees but served as chairman of the authority twice – from 2008 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2014.

During those two terms of office he raised almost £2,500 for four local charities – the Forces Children’s Trust, Richmond and Catterick Riding for the Disabled Association, the Michael Syddall CE primary school at Catterick and Catterick Village Girl Guide Group.

Current chairman Russell Lord said: “Rob was a big man, with a big heart who did a huge amount of work for the local area. He was a credit to both Richmondshire District Council and his ward.

“He will be greatly missed by the Council and for his tremendous commitment to the local community.

“Not only was Rob a great mentor to me over the last seven years he became a good friend and it was an honour to serve with him as a fellow councillor and last year as his vice-chairman.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to Teresa and their family.”

The flag at the council’s Mercury House headquarters in Richmond will fly at half-mast until sunset on the day of his funeral – details of which will be announced shortly.