A VETERAN councillor has been described as a true gentleman and people person – passionate about his community and with limitless generosity and kindness for those in need – following his death.

Brian Avery had been a councillor in the Ferryhill, Kirk Merrington and Chilton areas of County Durham for decades.

Initially a Labour member, he later went independent, and represented the Ferryhill ward of Durham County Council since May 2008.

He was also a Sedgefield Borough Councillor from 1991 to 2008 and previously served on Ferryhill Town Council.

He was a former magistrate, head of many fundraising campaigns, served on the committees of local groups such as Mainsforth Community Centre, the Royal British Legion and was a current member of The Combined Fire and Rescue Authority.

He had also played as a bowler for Mainsforth Cricket Club for many years.

Councillor Avery was an electrician by trade but had done many other jobs including working for the National Coal Board, a double-glazing salesman, a newspaper canvasser for The Northern Echo, a football coupon man, and a bouncer at the old Variety Club in Spennymoor – where he met many famous acts including Sinitta and Showaddywaddy and often got signed photographs to take home to his family.

Cllr Avery, 81, had four children, Steven, Andrew, Joanne and Christopher, ten grandchildren and six grea-grandchildren.

Steven said: “He always liked to be busy, he liked to get involved in everything and was always keen to help people out.

“After he went independent people voted for him, not the colour of his badge.

“He was also a big family man, and we’re very proud of him and the service he gave to the public of this area.”

He said his father was found at home on Saturday, October 30, having passed away in his armchair surrounded by paperwork relating to council business.

Tributes have also poured in from former council colleagues.

Friend and council colleague Peter Atkinson said: "Brian really meant a lot to me, he was a good guy, a real gentleman and people person.

"He knew everybody in Ferryhill and everybody knew him, his heart and soul was always there for the people of Ferryhill and the rest of his ward.

"As a councillor, people just want you to do something about what matters to them and Brian got things done.

"His secret was probably having everyone's phone number and ringing anyone that could help, from the top of an organisation to the bottom, and he'd ring and ring until something happened. You'd hear him joking 'you'll get your P45 if this isn't done'.

"People respected and appreciated him.

"He'd be at every meeting, often with his little dog Benji, doing what he could for his community and residents."

The Northern Echo:

Durham County Councillor John Shuttleworth said: “Brian was a member of our Independent Group and was totally dedicated to the people of Ferryhill.

"He always called me at least twice a day, sometimes seven days a week, and it was always in relation to getting something fixed or done for a resident in Ferryhill or the surrounding area.

"He will be truly missed by the community and his friends and colleagues at Durham County Council. A true man of the people!”

Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield, said: “I have known Brian since I became a Durham County Councillor and even more so since I became the MP for Sedgefield.

"Brian was an active member of the community and in his roles as a local councillor for Ferryhill and Chilton with Durham County Council; a district Councillor for the Chilton Ward on Sedgefield Borough Council and in previous years when he served on Ferryhill Town Council; he always put the people of Dean Bank, Ferryhill and Chilton first.

"I don’t recall ever having a discussion on politics with Brian, it was always a discussion about his ward.

“Brian was a true gentleman in every sense and will be sadly missed by everyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting with him.

"I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family. RIP Brian, a real man of the people.”

Cllr Avery was also chairman of the 4 Together Partnership and had not missed one board meeting over the 12 years of the AAPs, often with his little dog Benji in attendance.

A spokesperson said: “Brian has funded hundreds of fantastic projects over the years via his Neighbourhood Budget, listening and addressing local needs was his passion, using his vast knowledge and professionalism, he knew where to go, who to speak to, what to do to "get the job done" .

“Brian was never afraid to voice his opinion – or fight for what he believed in, 24/7 his "office" was never closed- “His generosity and kindness towards others went way beyond his role as a County Councillor.

“We will miss Brian not just as a colleague, but as a friend – including the daily morning calls that always started “any news?"”

“RIP Cllr Brian Avery, in your absence we will continue to, in your words "get the job done".”

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