WARM tributes have been paid to a former councillor and past Mayor of Richmond who founded the town's football team.

Oliver Blease, who died at the age of 80 this month, was a popular figure in Richmond and spent time serving on both the Richmondshire District and North Yorkshire County councils as well as a town councillor - a position he held up to his passing.

He was the Mayor of Richmond in 2011 and prior to that he played an instrumental role in founding the town's football club.

More than two decades ago he set up the Richmond Young Conservative team, who then became Cameron United and went on to become the Richmond Town Football Club which still exists today.

Cllr Blease served the club for 25-years and led them to great success as manager.

His dedication to the team went far beyond management as he could often be seen marking out the playing field himself and taking the kits home to be washed by his wife Valerie.

For the home matches, he devised a device in the form of an extended bamboo cane with a loop to retrieve the footballs that invariably ended up in the River Swale.

At one point when four balls were lost he put out an appeal and a ball was returned all the way from Skipton upon Swale.

Cllr Blease was also key in gaining the permission to build the pavilion at Earl's Orchard and even managed to get footballing legend Jack Charlton to perform the opening ceremony.

In addition to his council roles, Cllr Blease was a long-time member of Richmond Round Table, the 41 Club and the Richmond Meet.

He was also a President and former Chairman of the Richmond Conservative Club.

A proud family man, Cllr Blease was married to Valerie for 54-years and had two children, Michael and Alyson, and five grandchildren.

Michael described him as a "wonderful dad" and "fantastic grandfather", adding: "He was always making us laugh, always full of fun and mischief.

"He was a really good conversationalist, a really lovely guy to talk to and in everything he did."

Fellow councillor Clive World, who had known Cllr Blease since the 1970s, spoke warmly of his friend, saying he made a "tremendous" contribution to Richmond.

He said: "Oliver was a worker, he believed in getting his hands dirty, which I can't say about every councillor I know.

"He was just a very, very nice man who will be sadly missed by many."