TRIBUTES are being paid to long serving Yorkshire Dales councillor and campaigner John Blackie, following his death this morning.

Cllr Blackie was chairman of Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council, a district councillor and former leader at Richmondshire District Council, a county councillor for the Upper Dales and a member of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

He had fought a long battle against cancer. 

Cllr Blackie was a well-known campaigner for local services, and fought tirelessly to retain services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

In recent years he led the community takeover of a number of services in Hawes, including a petrol station, library, and the Little White Bus service.

Councillor Stuart Parsons, chairman of Richmondshire District Council, paid his tribute.

He said: "Cllr Blackie didn't give up, he fought for everything and everyone and he believed in what he fought for, his community. He was an incredible community champion and will be really missed. 

"He was an example for the rest of us, and I can't imagine life without him. 

"It is very difficult trying to come to terms with it. We know he was unwell, but we thought he would bounce back as he had done so many times before, but his body gave up.

"Now we have got to ensure everything he has done remains in place. That is our duty, and in his memory to make sure that everything is fine. The residents of the Upper Dales deserves that."

Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond, described Cllr Blackie as a “community champion” for whom he had respected.

He said: “I was a saddened to hear about the passing of John Blackie.

"He was a true community champion who always had the interests of the Upper Dales communities at the top of his agenda, and I had huge respect for him.

"What he achieved in Hawes with the community office, the Little White Bus, the filling station and many other initiatives will be a lasting and fitting memorial to his years of public service.

"My thoughts are with his family and friends.”

The Northern Echo: VOLUNTEERS: Cllr John Blackie with his band of recently-passed volunteers

Cllr Blackie with bus volunteers

The bus service tweeted this morning: "We are devastated to learn the news this morning that @votejohnblackie has passed away, and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones. In true John style, it will be business as usual across the services, but please bear with us. You will be very sadly missed, John xxx"

A spokesperson for the Save the Friarage Hospital campaign group said: "We are very saddened to hear of the passing of councillor John Blackie this morning. A man who has done so much for this area and was a passionate advocate for the Friarage hospital - He has supported the campaign from day 1, offering us wonderful advice and support and we will continue to fight in his memory.

"It is truly fitting that he spent his final days in the hospital which he loved so much.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Jill and all of his family and friends at this sad time. RIP JOHN."