Tributes paid after death of much-loved councillor

GENTLEMAN: Coun Tom Burns with grandchildren Lennon and Caleb in 2011
GENTLEMAN: Coun Tom Burns with grandchildren Lennon and Caleb in 2011
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Tributes have been paid to an “absolute gentleman” following the sudden death of a Preston councillor.

Labour councillor Tom Burns died unexpectedly on Wednesday at the age of 67.

His wife Pauline described her late husband as a family man, and “an all round really really nice person”.

Mrs Burns said: “He was very much a family man, he put his family first.

“But he loved his council work - he was very determined to get the best for everybody. He gave 110 per cent to whatever he did and he was just an all round really really nice person.”

The couple had three daughters and two grandsons, and Mrs Burns said: “He was very proud of his daughters, and absolutely adored his grandsons. He loved his family and everything they had achieved. He was a very considerate person and always put everybody else before himself.”

Mrs Burns described her late husband as a man of “hidden talents”, and said he had been interested in drama and had even written a play. She said: “He was just the other half of me - it would have been 43 years this year we have been married. There’s a big hole now - just an empty space.”

Coun Burns, of Fulwood, had suffered from kidney problems, but it is not yet known what caused his death.

Before joining the city council, he had served as a councillor and cabinet member with Lancashire County Council from 2005 to 2009.

The leader of Preston City Council, Coun Peter Rankin, described the death of his close friend as “devastating”.

He said: “Tom had been a Preston City Councillor since 2010, representing Fishwick ward and was cabinet member for advice services, culture and leisure, which included the leisure centres, the Guild Hall and the Harris Museum.

“He was a great champion for those services. Despite being ill for some time Tom had never let this prevent him carrying out his council duties or any of his political activities.

“He could have taken life a little easier but that would not have been like Tom.”

Coun Rankin said his colleague had attended a Labour councillor’s meeting on Tuesday evening and said: “My great regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to speak to Tom at the end of the meeting before he left for home.”

He described Coun Burns as a “caring, passionate socialist” and added: “We will all miss Tom.”

Preston Council’s Conservative group leader Coun Ken Hudson described Coun Burns as an “absolute gentleman”, and Liberal Democrats group leader Coun Bill Shannon said: “I had an enormous amount of time for him as a politician and as a person.”