TRIBUTES have been paid to a "diligent and courteous" former councillor who has died after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Former colleagues of Geoff Walker, who was a member of Darlington Borough Council for more than a decade, have remembered him fondly following his death on April 12.

The 84-year-old was a member of the Labour party for more than 50 years and decided to stand as a councillor after his retirement.

Stephen Harker, leader of Darlington Labour councillors, said “I will miss Geoff. He was a trusted and reliable colleague.

"His insight was valuable. He wanted the best for Darlington.”

Chris McEwan, who served as a councillor or the Haughton East ward at the same time as Mr Walker, described his former colleague as a "legend".

He said: “After retirement he used to leaflet for me. I missed a call once and got him the next day - asked ‘what's up’ - he calmly told me that he half his finger bitten off by a dog but was more concerned that he hadn’t finished delivering the leaflets.

"He was an absolute legend.”

He was elected to the council in 1999 and served for 12 years.

Members of the local Labour party described him as diligent in all he did, courteous and always willing to speak out,

During his time as a member of the party, he held many positions in his local branch, including as treasurer for many years.

He was well-known in Haughton and continued to support his successors after leaving the council in 2011.

One resident said: "He was such a nice chap and so helpful when he served on the council.

"I know there will be no funeral as such, but he will be in our thoughts.”

Outside of politics Mr Walker had a wide range of interests.

He travelled widely abroad, was a keen ornithologist and continued to cycle well beyond the age when most people would have given up.

Many of Mr Walker's colleagues will have fond memories ruminating with him about how to resolve the ills of the world over a pint in a quiet pub.

Mr Walker was taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital on Monday, April 6 and was diagnosed with Covid-19.

He died on Sunday, April 12.