A POPULAR former mayor has died of cancer. Barry Pickering, who was mayor of Hexham in Northumberland for a two-year term that ended last May, died at home in the town on Saturday.
The 70-year-old, who served as a town, district and county councillor, announced that he was suffering from the disease three months ago.
Tynedale Council chief executive Richard Robson said: “Barry Pickering was an inspirational councillor who cared passionately about Tynedale as well as his home patch of Hexham.
“He worked tirelessly, taking the lead role in a number of environmental and recycling projects that made a real difference to people’s lives in the area.
“He cared passionately about the parks and their displays and could often be found assisting the staff with weeding and maintenance as well as taking the lead role in presenting the parks to visiting inspectors by driving them around in his vintage Rolls-Royce.
“Barry was a larger-than-life character, full of humour and wit, and yet with a deeply held care for and commitment to the area, and we shall miss him.”
Tynedale Council leader Coun Michael Walton said: “I will miss Barry greatly, both as a friend and a councillor. He was never afraid to get down and dirty when something needed doing and his legacy will be the improvements to Tynedale and Hexham in particular that his work instigated.”
Current mayor Coun JB Jonas said: “You could not have found a more generous man or one who was more loyal to his friends.”
He said he had been the driving force behind Hexham’s success in the 2005 Britain in Bloom competition and one of the main reasons it was named England’s favourite market town by Country Life magazine. “He would have been the first to say it was a team effort, but he was very much the leader of that team.”
He managed Riverside Leisure caravan park with partner Tony Davidson for 25 years. His funeral is at Hexham Abbey on Monday.