BRADFORD peace campaigner, songwriter and singer Karl Dallas who died this week dedicated his last protest song to the health service before checking out for "the great big gig in the sky."

The 85-year-old from Manningham who passed away on Tuesday with his wife Gloria by his side had contacted the Telegraph & Argus praising his NHS carers and facilities saying despite fighting for his life the experience had inspired a political reaction in him to write a song about it – and the forthcoming EU referendum.

In a letter to the T&A from his hospice bed earlier this month he said: "Having missed the opportunity to register for a postal or proxy vote, hearing all these migrant voices and seeing all these coloured faces ministering to my every need, I felt that whatever's wrong with the EU, and there's a lot that does need changing, the Little Englander approach of Brexit would do irreparable damage to services people like me depend on. My needs are not unique but I do feel that the level of care I have received has given me this insight. And yes! I have written a song about it before checking out for the great big gig in the sky.”

He said he hoped it would be sung at his funeral. Arrangements are still being made.

Mr Dallas, named after Karl Marx and signed up to the Independent Labour Party the day he was born by his socialist parents, led a full and colourful life across his eight and a half decades.

Tributes have been pouring in for the justice fighter, playwright, musician and folk music journalist who became a human shield in Iraq in 2003 when he travelled from Bradford to Baghdad with his guitar in a double-decker bus - in typical style he gave a Beatles-style concert on the roof of a press centre, singing Give Peace A Chance.

Living in London as a teenager he started writing poems and songs under the name of Fred Dallas, The Spinners went on to record one of his most well-known tunes The Family Of Man and others like Ewan McColl and June Tabor followed.

He became a music journalist and his articles appeared in the Melody Maker. In 1967 he wrote his first book, Swinging London: a guide to where the action is and for a time had run his own public relations agency with clients including Billy Smart's Circus. He also worked as a concert promoter mixing with Pink Floyd, the Doors, Bob Dylan and Mike Oldfield.

He converted from atheism to Christianity in 1983 and retired from journalism in 1999. After his return from Iraq he satirised his experiences as a human shield by writing a musical tragicomedy called Into the War Zone. His playwriting and campaigning continued and in 1996 he took to the streets of Bradford to oppose the arrest of five street preachers, taking up position outside John Street market on a busy Saturday he gave a defiant rendition of We Shall Not Be Moved.

In 2002 he was working with schoolchildren to send out an anti-drugs message, he was also chairman of Bradford Community Health Council. During that year, he travelled to Palestine as part of the International Solidarity Movement where he had a close encounter with a stun grenade thrown by an Israeli soldier which exploded three feet away from him.

Into his eighties, he continued his upbeat pace by broadcasting regularly for Bradford Community Broadcasting and reviewing books, music and films for the Morning Star daily newspaper. Another of his campaigns involved leading a sing-in to save his local swimming baths in Manningham.

He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in February, a few months before that he was in the T&A after going on hunger strike protesting with a placard outside Department for Work and Pensions offices in Manningham Lane over £5676.76 being claimed back from him by the DWP in overpayments. The situation was never resolved.

Among those who have paid tribute to him are Tony Charnock from Bradford's Topic Folk Club who said: "Karl's contributions to not just the Topic but the folk world in general will be sorely missed: he was always full of ideas, passionate about music and the many causes he espoused, always angry about and fighting injustice, both in practice and in song, always encouraging young or up and coming musicians. His energy and ability to engage an audience never wavered, right up to the time he was too ill to be physically active, and then he continued via social media from his hospital bed. A sad day."

Fellow broadcaster Rob Martin, who knew him from BCB and has just interviewed him for a special programme celebrating The Topic Folk Club's 60th anniversary this year, said: "He was a stalwart, a great man committed to everything he did."

And Bradford City of Sanctuary chairman Will Sutcliffe said: "You just knew he was always out there doing something good for someone, somewhere."

The Rev Alistair Helm, Vicar of St Paul’s Church, Manningham where Mr Dallas and wife Gloria worshipped said: “He was a flamboyant dresser and a larger than life character. We got on well and had many honest debates. He was one of the first people I met when I came to Bradford to be interviewed and I thought who is this? He questioned me hard. When he wasn’t there at a service, something was missing. He will be missed greatly.”

Friend and Bradford actor Nadeem Batt said: "Karl was a wonderful man. He had many friends in the Muslim community and mosques who he respected and who respected him. He was like an uncle to me."

Mr Dallas who has a two-year-old grandson Tyler Dallas also leaves three grown-up children Stephen, Molly and Tom.

Son Stephen, 48, said: “Dad extended his personality to Bradford when he moved from London. He was welcomed here and the city has been a big part of his life. He was an extraordinary character. His experience at the Marie Curie hospice blew him away. The care he was given was reflective of the message of love he had shared with the world.”

The last word goes to Mr Dallas, he wrote in a 1999 Faith Matters article for the T&A about his street preaching experience and said: "A woman once told me I was talking crap. "Quite possibly," I said "because I'm human. But God loves you and that's no crap."