A MAJOR figure in the Darwen Labour Party has died at the age of 77 after a battle with Parkinson's disease.
Bernard Mathews was treasurer and party agent for around 20 years and was described by fellow members as a "stalwart" for Labour.
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He also stood for the party in the North Turton and Whitehall wards on several occasions and was a pro-active fundraiser.
For the whole of his career he worked for the former Crumpsall Hospital, now known as North Manchester General Hospital, in the microbiology department.
Around 18 months ago Mr Mathews, who lived in Edgworth for nearly 40 years, was diagnosed with Parkinsons and was receiving full time care in a Bury nursing home for aroundbout a year before he died.
His wife Christine, who he married in 1977, said: “He was a very clever man who was absolutely dedicated to his work and always said what he wanted to say. He wasn’t bothered what anyone else thought.
“The biggest memory I’ll have of with him overall is all the walking that we did in the countryside and completing a coast-to-coast walk with him which we did split into bits over four years.
“He was a brilliant dad to both his sons. He always made time for them and he was very well respected by all the Labour party.”
The pair, who had two sons Joe, 37, and David, 34, met her husband while working in the hospital.
Darwen councillors said news of his death meant the end of an era.
Cllr Eileen Entwistle, who has been a Labour member for 62 years, and was a friend of Mr Mathews, said: “He used to organise the finances and campaigned with me for years, especially around election time where he would also sort out the leaflets.
“It feels like the end of an era,He really will be missed. He was such a calm and lovely person with a wonderfully dry sense of humour. "
“He helped the party in a huge way and I’m so sorry we are saying goodbye.” Cllr John Roberts said: “Bernard was a stalwart of the local Labour Party and for many years he was pivotal in the fundraising and organising at election time.”
Cllr Dave Smith said: “Extremely sad news that our friend and comrade Bernard Mathews sadly passed away.
“He was a guy who gave 100 per cent and was extremely hard working and dedicated. He will be deeply missed.”