Touching tributes have flooded in after the loss of a respected councillor who spent more than a decade helping his town.

Hundreds of people have taken to social media to pay their respects to George Fairhurst, who died aged 79 on Friday, April 16, his family has said.

Those commemorating his life say George was a beloved and hardworking councillor in Standish, Wigan, where he held a council seat for 15 years after retiring from a career building and working in the caravan industry.

From left: George Fairhurst with son Gareth and grandson Gareth Jr as they watched Wigan at Wembley

In the wake of his death, his family discovered no less than three address books - where he wrote down the names of every person who needed help over his tenure as a councillor.

The councillor would make a note of the date the constituent first got in contact, the issue the needed help with, and weekly reminders to check up on them after their problem had been solved.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News , Gareth Fairhurst remembered his father, saying: “He was a Standish councillor for 15 years after he retired from work.

“It was his way of putting something back into the community. He had such a love for the community - whether it was setting up community groups, organising social events, helping anyone that was having a problem, he’d be there helping them.

“It could have been something simple, like someone’s bin had been missed or not collected for a few weeks, as well as something as big as a play scheme to keep children active during the summer holidays. He did so much.

“Some people may have a particular cause they champion, an issue particularly close to their heart. For my dad, it was the people of Standish that were close to his heart.

“He set up ramps for skateboarders so primary school children would have something to do. He was passionate about road safety, house building in the village when the infrastructure wasn't there.

“But his main focus was the residents - young and old. He just loved the people of Standish and Wigan.”

George lived in Wigan town centre with wife of 51 years, Maria, who he lost to a cancer battle in recent years.

Together, the couple welcomed daughter Angela, before moving to Standish in 1973, where they were joined by son Gareth.

George became popular in his new town as he was often spotted walking out with his border collie dog, Holly, usually speaking to an 'audience'.

He was also a keen runner, doing '12 hours shifts in the factory then coming home and doing a half-marathon every evening, and a marathon on weekends', remembers Gareth.

George's sporty side also paved the way for his decade-long position as a referee in his favourite sport, rugby league, where he became famous for sending players off after warning that there 'would be no messing around' on his watch.

Standish, Wigan

After the tragic death of his wife, George sprung into action and established a bereavement group for those who were experiencing similar grief to him.

“My dad recognised that not everyone would have the same distractions from grief in the way he had, as he was a busy man," said Gareth, 47.

"He set up a bereavement group that started as just three people in a pub. Soon enough, there were people from all over Wigan asking to join the group.

"It's now a group of 30 people who meet every month. He understood what they were going through and that people, especially elderly people who might be lonely, might not be able to cope.

"I remember one lady who was a bit hesitant to join because she didn't know anyone in the group and she was used to just seeing family, but had been a little lonely since losing her husband.

"My dad said 'right, I'll pick you up and you can come with me'. He would never leave anyone behind. Now, that lady has grown so confident and is one of the main organisers of the group. It's life-changing.

"That's the kind of legacy my dad has."

George’s death was ‘unexpected’ but was not a result of Covid-19, his family has confirmed as they thanked the hundreds of people who have taken to social media to share their memories of George.

“The support has been overwhelming. It’s been incredible,” said Gareth.

“It’s really touching that people in Standish have responded with kind words. It’s so nice to know he was so respected by people in Standish and Wigan.

“Of course, we know what he was like as a dad and at home but it’s wonderful to see people thinking of him.

“I saw one comment that described him as ‘a true Standish gentleman’. What a nice way of summing up my dad.”

George leaves behind his two children, as well as five grandchildren.