A FORMER borough Mayor whose wicked sense of humour brightened local politics has died of coronavirus.

Ian Gilhespy was Pendle's 'First Citizen' in 2000/2001.

He passed away aged 65 from Covid-19 earlier this month and his funeral was held at Burnley Crematorium today.

Born in the North-East, he came to Pendle in 1980 and was Liberal Democrat councillor for the Horsfield ward in Colne for eight years between 1995 and 2003.

He leaves daughter Hazel who acted as his Mayoress when aged just 16 and a pupil at Primet High School, Colne.

Cllr David Whipp, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Pendle Council, said: "Ian had a wicked sense of humour.

"He was always a good laugh.

"I am really sad to hear of his passing and particularly that he died because of Covid-19.

"It is a double tragedy.

"He was dedicated, as were his whole family, to the people he represented.

"Ian was committed to the people of Colne and Pendle."

Leader of Pendle Council, Labour's Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, said: "I had the pleasure of working with Ian although we were of different political persuasions.

"He was down to earth and a true gentleman. He will be sadly missed.

"I was always a good laugh and his sense of humour brightened the council chamber."

Mr Gilhespy, who worked for bus company Stagecoach, had just marked his 65th birthday when he died.

Today the Nelson Town Hall and Colne Town Hall flags flew at half-mast in his memory.

At his Mayor making in May 2000, Mr Gilhespy said coming to Pendle in 1980 was the best move he ever made adding: "From the outset the people of Pendle have proved to be among the most welcoming in the country,"