THE sudden death of a senior Blackburn with Darwen councillor has shocked his family, party colleagues and political opponents.

Livesey with Pleasington ward Conservative John Pearson died aged 75 on Saturday after a heart attack at home earlier in the week.

He was described as friendly, amusing and a ‘true gentleman’.

Cllr Pearson, who died in the Royal Blackburn Hospital, leaves a wife of three years, two children, three step-children, five grandchildren and a step granddaughter.

Darwen East Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Browne said: “This is an unbelievable shock. He was a true gentleman, always friendly and amusing.”

Conservative ward colleague Cllr Derek Hardman said: “It was very sudden. John was a proper gentleman but a very good councillor who never let an issue got until he had sorted it.”

His wife Judith, 68, said: “John was an absolute joy to be with and an absolute gentleman friendly to everyone.

“He was always humorous and his loss will leave a huge hole in family and civic life. He always wanted to give back.”

Cllr Pearson was born in Cherry Tree and attended Wensley Fold Primary and the Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Blackburn before studying electrical engineering at Bristol University.

He ran his own business before working for Network Rail, retiring when he joined the council in 2010. He was re-elected twice.

Cllr Pearson was a former chairman of Blackburn Conservatives, Livesey Parish Council, and the Feniscowles and Pleasington War Memorial Recreation Ground as well as a governor of Witton Park High School. He held several senior posts in Blackburn with Darwen Council Conservative group.

Cllr Mohammed Khan, Labour leader of the borough, said: “I always found John to a passionate and dedicated councillor who always had his constituents and the borough’s best interest at heart. His presence will be missed greatly.”

Conservative group leader Cllr John Slater said: “He was much-loved and well-respected. Whenever he spoke he was listened to. He was always cheerful and humourous.”

Julian Arnold, chairman of Blackburn Conservatives, said “The news has come as a terrible shock to us all. He is a huge loss.”

Cllr Pearson had two children - Jeanette and Jeffrey - by his first wife Helen who died in 2015 and three step-children Louise, William and Richard.

Arrangements are being made for a private funeral.

The Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Cllr Jim Shorrock, said: “Councillor Pearson will be greatly missed. He was respected by all his fellow councillors.”

Borough chief executive Denise Park: “On behalf of the officers of the council, I extend our deepest sympathy to Cllr Pearson’s family at this very sad time. He was a hard-working and committed councillor who will be sorely missed by everyone.”