TRIBUTES have been paid to Gay Wharton – a former mayoress of Bolton – who died in a hit-and-run in Chorley New Road.

Mrs Wharton was a pioneering mayoress alongside 2014 mayor Cllr Martin Donaghy and a second mayoress Jacqueline Tracey.

The trio had worked together at Sainsbury’s in Bolton town centre.

Mrs Wharton became a champion for the women’s refuge Fortalice – as well as numerous other good causes in the town.

She went onto become a patron of Fortalice and in 2017 she set also up a breakfast club for army veterans.

Police were called just after midday to reports of a collision involving a black Audi and a pedestrian on Chorley New Road, between Bolton School and the town centre.

The grandmother, aged 58, suffered serious injuries and died at the scene.

Police said the car failed to stop following the collision.

Cllr Donaghy said: “Gay was one of our in-store trainers at Sainsbury’s and she was quite reticent about the idea of being a mayoress.

“But I thought, no, she is going to be one of my mayoresses, and she really blossomed in the role.

“And she continued with that work after her year as mayoress, particularly as part of Fortalice, because she believed in what they stood for.

“She was such a caring and concerned person. I’m obviously devastated and my thoughts go out to her husband to Steve and her family.”

Current mayor Cllr Linda Thomas said: "It is devastating news about the sudden loss of Gay.

"Gay was a lovely friend to so many of us. She touched so many lives and we all loved her.

"She was an exemplary Mayoress and continued her good work being a great ambassador and fundraiser for Fortalice.

"Gay made a massive contribution to the life of this town she will be sorely missed.

"Our hearts go out to her family who we are all thinking about.”

Leader of Bolton Council Cllr David Greenhalgh said: “Gay, of course, was one of Cllr Donaghy’s mayoresses, and became across all parties a friend to many of us, involved in numerous charities and fundraising wherever she could.

“Always with a smile on her face, always supportive, always committed to improving the lot of others.

“Our thoughts and love from us all at the council go to her family at this tragic news.”

Leader of Bolton’s Labour group Cllr Nick Peel said: “The news has come as a massive shock. When Gay’s year as mayoress was over, she chose to continue her voluntary work for the town, helping out wherever she could, and she became a good friend of many people involved with the council, because of her enthusiasm and cheerful character.

“She will be hugely missed by many people.”

A police spokesman said: “Police were called at 12.05pm today to reports of a collision involving a black Audi and a pedestrian on Chorley New Road in Bolton.

“The pedestrian suffered serious injuries and sadly passed away at the scene despite the best efforts of emergency services.

“The Audi failed to remain at the scene.

“No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing.”

The road was closed in both directions near Queens Park as officers worked at the scene.

Police are appealing for witnesses of the collision to come forward to help detectives with the investigation.

If you have any information contact police on 0161 856 4741 quoting incident number 1,019 of November 13.

Alternatively, people can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.