Ex-Liberal Democrat leader Danny Gallagher hit his head in a fall at a holiday park in Cumbria, and is now fighting for his life in hospital.
His devastated family say they have been told the outlook is “not good”, with former colleagues sending messages of support.
Danny, 56, who represented Larches ward, stepped down from Preston Council ahead of the elections in 2012 to begin a new life in Cumbria, where he manages a holiday park on the edge of Coniston Water with his wife Karina.
His daughter Daniella, 32, said: “He was just doing some jobs in the morning and he slipped off a step onto some concrete, and he has suffered a catastrophic brain injury.
“He had come out of one of the lodges and missed the step.
“He was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital because it was a head injury, and he’s in a coma. He had an operation to stem the bleeding to his brain, then he was taken back to have some pieces of his skull taken away to alleviate the increasing pressure.” Daniella said the consultant had told the family “it looks bleak”, following the fall last Tuesday.
She said it was hoped his level of sedation could be reduced, if medics could maintain a certain level of head pressure. She said: “Even if he was to come round, the damage he’s sustained would mean he certainly would not be the Danny Gallagher you or I know. We are probably looking at, best case scenario, some kind of vegetative state. We’ve been told it’s not good.”
Daniella said the family of the grandfather-of-six was by his bedside in the critical care unit of the hospital.
She said: “What my family and I want to acknowledge is the amount of good work my dad has done and how much he loved the community of Preston, particularly the Larches and Savick area where he was a councillor for so long.
“He worked for the Alzheimer’s Society, he worked for Recycling Lives, he did so much good work in Preston and so many people wished us well, and it is really appreciated. We are together and we are united as a family. It is a terrible, terrible situation for his young family, as well as for me and (my sister) Gemma.”
Danny has a wife and young children, as well as older daughters Daniella and Gemma and six granddaughters.
Daniella said her dad wanted to “give back” to the community, and said: “He was so very giving of himself and his time to the local community and the people of Preston, and he instilled in me a sense of community. I’m a very proud Prestonian as a direct result of my dad.”
Danny worked as a butcher before working on community projects and serving as a councillor for almost 15 years.
A genuinely lovely man with a heart of gold
Current Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Pauline Brown described Danny as a “staunch” supporter of the party for many years.
She said: “We were going to meet for a coffee last week. I ended up in a meeting, and I regret that now.
“He worked very hard with the Boxing Club, he was involved with various charities including Emmaus.
“Any sort of charities, he would jump on the band wagon and get stuck in there and help them.
“He was always here, there and everywhere.
“As a councillor he was very, very well respected, and he was a very good friend.
“It didn’t matter what was going on in his own life, he would always be there for you.”
She said she desperately hoped Danny would pull through and said: “To me, where there’s life there’s hope.
“I just really really hope, for his family’s sake and his friends, he does pull through this.
“I would imagine with the inner strength he has, even though he’s in a coma, his inner strength would be fighting for him to stay here.
“He is a genuinely lovely man.”
Former colleague Coun Christine Abram said: “Danny had his faults, but he had a heart of gold.”
Coun Abram’s family suffered bereavement in 2006, when the partner of her daughter, Ruth, died suddenly. She said: “When my daughter’s partner died, Danny was the one person who would come and sit with me. In the darkest days when I was on my own, he was the one person who would come round and sit and talk to me or bring flowers. He was a fantastic support and he had a heart of gold.
“He was involved with Emmaus, Recycling Lives, and in Larches he did a lot.
“He was an all-round really kind person. I think that’s the main thing about him, his kindness to other people.
“It’s very, very sad.
“When something happens to someone suddenly, your life is turned upside down because it doesn’t seem real.”
Labour councillor Drew Gale added: “He was a larger than life character and he was loved among the people of Larches ward when he represented them.”