A FAMILY has paid tribute to a passionate socialist and community volunteer who always put others first.

David Hardaker was meticulous, dedicated and selfless in his public life and loyal, eccentric and fun-loving in private.

Mr Hardaker's family moved to Newton Aycliffe when he was two-years-old and he lived in the same house until he died on September 29, days before turning 69.

He went to the town's Sugar Hill Primary School and Ferryhill Grammar School before studying science at university in Birmingham.

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For a while he worked for heavy industrial firm Head Wrightson, which included a secondment to open a gold mine in Venezuela.

He later became a civil servant and worked for the Department for Work and Pensions for almost 35 years, in Newton Aycliffe, Bishop Auckland and Darlington.

Niece Sarah Giles said: "It wasn't just a job but his passion, he would make sure people got what they were entitled to.

"He had an incredible memory and knew every form to fill in, all the rules and stipulations to meet and would do everything he could to make sure people got what they deserved."

Mr Hardaker had strong socialist views and supported many trade union campaigns, protests and marches and always went to Durham Miners' Gala.

He retired about five years ago and threw himself into voluntary work.

He became an advisor for the Citizens Advice Bureau in Newton Aycliffe – supporting many people with benefits claims - and a volunteer with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway ­– usually selling tickets from the station at Goathland and even sleeping in old carriages when volunteering over several days.

Niece Gail Hardaker said: "He'd always ask how he could help people, he did everything he could to support people who needed help."

His early trip to South America gave him the travel bug and he visited more than 50 countries and enjoyed many UK holidays, often travelling by train and bus.

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He also loved real ale, live music, walking with Newton Aycliffe Ramblers, watching films and TV and enjoying a drink with his family and always made an effort to keep in touch with friends – from visiting a pal in Norway and going to Thailand for a friend's wedding to regular scrabble games with a neighbour and socialising with friends across the country.

Niece Rhiannon Hardaker said: "He was eccentric and always had fun, he was up for everything and didn't care what people thought. He was thoughtful but never looked sad.

"The amount of messages from people who knew him is incredible."

In 2017 Mr Hardaker was elected to represent Simpasture on Great Aycliffe Town Council, following in the footsteps his late parents Vic and Joyce who were once Town Mayor and Mayoress.

Mrs Giles said: "If he took care of himself as much as he cared for others he might still be here.

"We are very proud of him."

His town council colleague and friend Eddy Adam said: "He was a loyal friend, a passionate man who committed to things whole-heartedly, he was always kind and helpful to everyone and a very loyal friend to many."

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