HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a borough councillor, described as "the perfect gentleman", who has died aged 77.

Ron Lewis had been a member of Darlington Borough Council since 1987 and represented the Mowden ward for almost 27 years.

He died peacefully at his home yesterday (Thursday, January 9) morning.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret, and two daughters, Hazel and Fiona.

His friend of more than 16 years and former borough councillor, Jim Ruck, said he worked tremendously hard for the Mowden ward and was very well known and appreciated.

“Darlington Borough Council has lost a very special councillor, Mowden has lost a dedicated worker and I have lost a great personal friend who I worked with for many years,” he said.

During his time at the authority Coun Lewis served on a number of committees, including the place scrutiny committee and the human resources committee, as well as representing the council on the Combined Fire Authority.

He was also mayor of the town from 2003 to 2004 and was vice chairman of the board of governors at the Federation of Mowden Schools.

He joined the Darlington Bondgate Round Table in 1969 where he stayed for around eight years, before becoming a founding member of the Darlington Bondgate 41 Club, of which he was a member of until his death.

Councillor Heather Scott, leader of the Conservative group at the authority described him as the perfect gentleman and an excellent ward councillor.

“Ron was an enthusiastic and hardworking member of the group. He was always willing to take on extra roles,” she said.

“He always participated fully in council meetings, he had a dry sense of humour and was the perfect gentleman.

“He will be sadly missed by us all and will be a hard act to follow.”

Fellow Mowden councillor, Bill Stenson, who worked with Coun Lewis throughout his time at the authority, said: “He will be sadly missed. He was very dedicated to his work and thought a lot about the ward.

“I remember him getting picked to serve the ward and he really stood out above the other candidates – he knew what the ward needed and knew how to do it.”

Ada Burns, the council’s chief executive also paid tribute, saying: “I am really sorry to hear about Ron, he was a gentle, caring man, committed to serving the people of Darlington, and liked and respected by all who worked with him in the council.”

Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council said he was proud to have known him.

He added: “Although he wasn't of my political persuasion he was a good and honourable man who worked hard for his constituents for many years and loved Darlington.”