THE FUNERAL of long-serving local councillor and disability campaigner Barry Thorne will be held at Keighley Shared Church.

Members of the public are welcome to go along to the service on Wednesday, January 15 at 1.30pm, which will be followed by a private ceremony at Oakworth Crematorium for family and close friends only.

Barry died on Christmas Eve just two months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, leaving a wife Patricia and sons Stephen and Jay.

Tributes have been received from many local politicians and residents praising Barry for his work representing the people of Keighley and the wider district as well as his support for people with learning disabilities.

Barry, who was in his early 70s, spent three decades as a Bradford councillor, including running Leisure Services and serving as Lord Mayor.

In more recent years he served first as a member of Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council, then as a member of Keighley Town Council, representing the Bracken Bank and Ingrow ward.

Barry, who lived in Oakworth with wife Patricia, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October, and following a spell in hospital had recently moved to Laurel Mount nursing home in Keighley.

Fellow Keighley town councillor Julie Adams, a close family friend, said Barry had fought his illness with dignity.

She said: “Barry was larger-than-life, a massive personality who deeply cared about other people, even through his illness. He cared about Keighley, and people cared about him.”

Conservative politician Dale Smith had been a firm friend of Barry’s since both were elected to Bradford Council in 1974, despite them being on opposing parties.

He said: “I had the privilege of being able to visit Barry twice whilst he was in Airedale Hospital and once in Laurel Mount, and marvelled at his fortitude.

“Barry was a man, comfortable in in own skin; a man for all people – we shall mourn his passing and treasure his memory. His wife Pat and his sons Jay and Stephen are in our hearts.

“Barry was a champion for people with disability and was a lead supporter of Bradford Disability Sports and Leisure. He was instrumental in raising funds to attend the Special Olympics on many occasions when the participants usually came back laden with medals.

“He was a driving force behind Woodville in Keighley, in the days when it was a refuge for young people with disabilities where they learned life-skills based around horticulture.”

Barry was born in Somerset but had lived in Yorkshire since 1970. He served in the Royal Navy for seven years as a radio electrical mechanic.

His first councillor role was on the now defunct Skipton and Rural District Council, where he was the only Labour Party member. He had been in the party for almost 50 years.

Barry was a district councillor for Keighley West ward from to 1976 and again from 1978 to 2004. He chaired Bradford Council leisure services for 17 years, and oversaw the renovation of the Alhambra Theatre and the development of new swimming pools for Keighley.

He worked closely with the then Conservative Government in the early 1980s to help set up a race relations advisory group in Bradford. And he was Bradford Lord Mayor in 1992/93.

For eight years he was a member of Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council, stepping down in 2015. He then joined Keighley Town Council, where he represented the Bracken Bank and Ingrow ward.

For many years a campaigner for equality for people with disabilities, he was instrumental in setting up Bradford Disability Sport & Leisure, serving for many years as its funding and publicity officer.

BDSL broke the news of Barry’s death in a letter to members on Christmas Eve, saying he had passed away during the night and adding: “Barry has been a huge part of BDSL for a long time and has supported us all in many ways.”

Gareth Logan, vice-chairman of trustees at BDSL, said: “I have a lot of fond memories. He’s been a tireless supporter of disability sports. Barry not only touched the hearts of people in Keighley, but people across the district. He was a true district councillor, fighting for everyone.”

Keighley Town Council issued a statement the same day expressing “deep sadness” at Barry’s death, outlining his long political career and support as a “stalwart and activist” for people with learning disabilities.

It stated: “Barry has throughout his life worked tirelessly for the town as a councillor in the Keighley Borough before the amalgamation into Bradford.

“The council and town has lost a champion who will be hard to replace. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family on this sad occasion.”

In respect and recognition to Barry, the flags in Keighley Town Hall Square were lowered to half mast at 9am on Christmas Day.

In a statement, Bradford Council outlined Barry’s achievements including his time as Labour Group Whip and Deputy Group Leader.

The deputy leader, Cllr Imran Khan, a long-time colleague, said: “I have been saddened by the news of Barry Thorne’s passing.

“Barry was a dedicated councillor, having represented the Keighley West ward for 30 years and serving as Lord Mayor of Bradford in 1992-93.

“Barry was a champion of race, disability, and sexual equality, and had recently been working for Bradford Disability Sports and Leisure, which shows his continued commitment to disability rights.

“Barry was hugely respected and will be missed. We send our condolences to his family and friends.”

Another friend from an opposing political party, long-serving Liberal Democrat councillor David Ward, this week recalled how the pair worked together a couple of decades ago to help push through Bradford Council’s ‘local area management’ initiative.

This gave more power to councillors and communities in each part of the district and led to the setting up of Keighley Area Committee.

Cllr Ward said: “Barry was a socialist and clearly a party animal, but he was never ‘tribal’. He was a very good democrat – the idea of devolving power to local level was something he felt very strongly about.”

Cllr Dale Smith recalled Barry’s willingness to establish friendships across the political divide.

He added: “Former Conservative councillor Juliette Kinsey reminded me the other day that when she broke her leg and used a wheelchair it was Barry who used to propel her around City Hall.”