TRIBUTES have been paid to a well-known former council employee who has died suddenly.

Dave Hodge, who looked after all the technical requirements at the Town Hall Theatre, Hartlepool, for more than 25 years, died on Monday after a battle with cancer.

The 59-year-old began his career at Hartlepool Borough Council as an electrician in 1961, before taking up his role at the theatre in 1976. He retired in 2001.

Bill Isely, a long-serving councillor and a close friend of Mr Hodge for many years, said: "Dave Hodge was very dedicated to his job at the theatre and was popular with the many amateur dramatic organisations, dance schools and professional artists who have appeared at the venue. He will be missed by his family and the many people who knew him."

Mr Hodge leaves his partner, Diane, and three sisters. His funeral takes place today at St Thomas More's RC Church, Easington Road, Hartlepool, at 9.45am. Friends and colleagues are also invited to join the family for a drink in the Grand Hotel after the funeral.