COUNCIL members have paid tribute to a 'hugely important' figure and a 'great patriot’ for Hexham.

Friends and colleagues of Tom Gillanders have paid tribute to him after hearing of his passing earlier this month.

Tom Gillanders, served as deputy mayor for the several years but in 2017, he gained unanimous support from councillors as he was given the top job of Mayor of Hexham.

Tom supported several charities and bought items for them, such as Gateway into the Community, where in 2018, he purchased three bean bags for the charity, at a cost of £160.

Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson was first to pay tribute and said: "Tom was a hugely important figure and served Hexham in a wide variety of ways thinking only of his community and never of himself.

"I was fortunate to have known him and will remember his smiling face for many years."

Counc. Trevor Cessford adds: "I was extremely shocked when I learnt of Tom’s passing. I had known Tom for quite a few years now and always found him to be a true gentleman.

"He had a wonderful Irish accent, especially when he said the word Father (Fatha) which always made me smile.

"Tom followed me as Mayor of Hexham and dedicated a lot of his time to the role.

"He was, like myself, always supportive of the Armed Forces and the readings he did at the war graves up at the cemetery on the day before Remembrance Sunday were always very in-depth and moving.

"My thoughts are very much with his wife, Edwina, and all their family I shall miss his marvellous sense of humour. "

The current Hexham Mayor, Derek Kennedy has also paid tribute. 

He said: "I will always have fond memories of Tom.  He worked tirelessly for Hexham as Mayor, Councillor and for the Royal British Legion.

"He played an integral role in the Remembrance Day service and researched biographies of those recorded on the war memorial which we read out each year.

"A fine man and a great patriot for Hexham.”