A FORMER champion town crier and borough Mayor has died.

Politicians of all parties have paid tribute to the late Tony Beckett who served as a Pendle councillor for Marsden and Barrowford wards for a combined total of almost 20 years.

He was Mayor of the borough with his wife Margaret as Mayoress in 2010/2011 and became Nelson's Town Crier, winning the title of champion in a national competition in Blackpool in 2011.

Pendle Council’s chief executive Dean Langton said of the former Conservative group leader: "Tony was a Pendle councillor from 1976 until 1980 and from 2000 until 2015 when he retired. He was a very hard-working councillor.”

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, Pendle Council's Leader, said: “I was privileged to know and work with Tony. He was a true gentleman who went beyond the political boundaries to work to improve people’s lives."

Borough Liberal Democrat Leader, Cllr David Whipp said: "I always found Tony a very principled, but pragmatic person. I’m sorry to hear that he has passed away.”

Cllr Christian Wakeford. leader of Pendle Council's Conservative Group and Barrowford representative, said: "I’m truly saddened to hear of Tony’s death. He was a true gentleman who cared passionately about Pendle and worked tirelessly to see the borough he loved improve.

“It was a tremendous honour to replace him at the council when ill health brought about his retirement and he certainly left some very large shoes to fill. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Margaret and the rest of the family at this difficult time.”

Pendle's Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson said: "I am saddened by the death of Tony Beckett over the weekend. He was a popular figure across Pendle for both his work as a councillor and for his work outside his political life.

"I have many happy memories from his Mayoral year. As a new MP at the time he made sure to show me the ropes of civic life in Pendle”

During his Mayoral year Cllr Beckett raised money for Help for Heroes, The Samaritans and Pendle Women’s Refuge. As Town Crier he played a key role at Lancashire Day events in Nelson.

In April 2015 Cllr Beckett was forced to stand down as a councillor through ill health after an aneurysm.

He received a thank-you letter from then Prime Minister David Cameron.