FORMER Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Abid Hussain has died from Covid-19.

Cllr Hussain, who has represented the Keighley Central ward for a number of years, had been ill for several weeks, and has now sadly succumbed to the virus.

The popular Councillor served as Lord Mayor of Bradford from 2017 to 2018, during which time his Lord Mayor’s Appeal raised thousands of pounds for the Down Syndrome Training and Support Services in Bingley and the Wishing Well Appeal.

Bradford Council Leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “Abid was a wonderful man and is such a loss to Keighley, the Labour Group, and to the district.  He was kind, hard-working and well-liked by all who knew him. He had compassion for others and showed humility which made him a very good councillor. 

“On a personal level I will miss him greatly, he was a good friend and colleague. And we will all remember him for the great contribution he made when he served the district as Lord Mayor.  He was so proud of being a Keighley councillor in that role, and championed the town and district to all the people he met.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Cllr Hussain was born in Mirpur in Pakistan and moved to the UK in 1971, at the age of 12, with his family. He was educated at Greenhead Grammar School in Keighley.

After leaving school he started his working life as an apprentice in textiles at British Mohair Spinners. He has a Management Diploma in Textiles, gained whilst studying at Bradford College. He left British Mohair Spinners to become a self-employed greengrocer and for the last ten years he has been self-employed as a travel agent.

He became a Labour councillor the Keighley Central Ward in 2010 and sat on a number of Council committees in his ten years as an elected member. He was currently Deputy Chair of the Keighley and Shipley Area Planning Panel and Keighley Area Committee, and a reserve member of the District Planning Panel.

He lived in Keighley and leaves a wife and seven children, two daughters and five sons. He had been married to his wife, Shahnaz Akhtar, since 1978. He came from a large family and had three brothers, two step-brothers and two step-sisters.

He was a devout Muslim and attended Markazi Jamia Masjid Mosque.

BOOK OF CONDOLENCE: Pay your tributes to Councillor Abid Hussain here

Current Lord Mayor Cllr Doreen Lee, who served as Cllr Hussain's deputy, said she is devastated by the news, and described her friend and colleague as "a great lad who was always there for you".

She said: "He was a lovely guy, he was a joy.

"I put him forward as Lord Mayor and was so happy to serve as his deputy.

"He was so lovely, he has a lovely wife and a lovely family and he was a really good friend to me.

"I always felt like part of his family, he always made you feel welcome and I'm really upset by this, it's so shocking I still can't believe its true.

"I thought he was starting to get better; it's a shock.

"He will be truly missed, I went to Pakistan with him last year and it was such a good time, we laughed every day.

"He listened to you, he listened to the community and he knew his community, he was a good land and a great Councillor.

"He never let me down, you could always count on him. I don't know what the community is going to do, or who is going to be able to fill his boots; it's going to be a hard task for anybody."

Cath Bacon, former Keighley West councillor, paid a moving tribute to Cllr Hussain.

She wrote on Facebook: “I’m heartbroken to hear of the passing of my amazing kind friend and community pillar, Abid Hussain. He sadly lost his fight against Covid today.

“He was a great councillor, an ex-Lord Mayor of Bradford. But above all that he was my friend and I will miss him greatly.

“Please, please don’t let this awful virus take any more friends and loved ones.”

Cllr Hussain was her agent when she stood for election in the Keighley Central ward and the pair travelled to Bangladesh together to deliver humanitarian aid to the Rohingya people.

She said: “He really, really was such a lovely, lovely man. It’s heart-breaking.

“He was the central lynchpin in the community, it didn’t matter which party you supported, they knew they could turn to him for advice.

“He would advise anybody, if there was someone who was struggling, he would be there straight away. They [Keighley] really have lost a huge personality.

“It’s so cruel is this thing, it really, really is. He deserves to still be with us."

She described him as a friend, an advisor and someone who would help quietly, without seeking publicity for the work he did.

Javed Bashir, who lived and worked alongside Cllr Hussain for more than 40 years, said the councillor will be “greatly missed” by all who knew him, not just in Keighley but surrounding Bradford areas and back home in Pakistan.

Mr Bashir said: “He was a very good man. I’ve known him for the last 40 years. We live in the same sort of area in Keighley.

“He’s always lived in Keighley.

“He was very much a community person and very much liked by people in Keighley and elsewhere. He did a lot for the community.

“It’s a big tragedy.

“It’s a message for the community as well that nobody’s safe from Covid. He was the youngest of three brothers and he’s gone before them.

“It’s shocking. I’m sure he will be greatly missed by everybody.”

Councillor Zafar Ali expressed his sadness at the fellow councillor’s death, adding that he was “like my brother”.

Cllr Ali (Keighley Central, Conservative) said: “I’ve lost one of my brothers.

“He was very close to me. We worked together all the time. We were together for the benefit of the community. We never had any issues.

“As such I’ve known him for the last 50 years, I brought him into politics some years ago. 

“He was a very nice, jolly fellow trying to help out wherever he can. I miss him. It’s very sad for me.

“I would like to state, those people who just ignore the pandemic should take this very seriously. It’s not just a joke, it’s a very serious disease. My plea to people is whatever religion, whoever they are, as a human being you need to be cautious and take every precaution.

"You need to stick to the Government guidelines. I know it’s a difficult time for everyone, it’s a very difficult time for every family but you need to follow the scientist’s and the Government’s advice in order to stop this virus.

“He was just like my brother.”

John Grogan, former Labour MP for Keighley, added: "Abid loved Keighley and all the people of the town from whatever background they came.

"He worked tirelessly for the residents of Keighley Central and particularly for the less well off and the disadvantaged. Abid sought always to bring communities together.

"He was also a passionate advocate for justice for the citizens of Kashmir where many families in Keighley have strong roots.

"Abid was usually one step ahead of most of us and had a twinkle in his eye. 

"I should like to pass on my sincere condolences to all members of Abid’s family who should be rightly proud of his many achievements including his term of office as the Lord Mayor of Bradford."

Councillor Geoff Reid (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said: "I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of Councillor Abid Hussain.

"When I handed over the chain and robes to Abid in 2017 at the end of my year of office, I saw him not only as a key figure in Keighley but as a Lord Mayor who was considerably younger than me.

"He understood the way that the Lord Mayor can have a unique rôle in helping people and their communities feel good about themselves and he threw himself into doing precisely that."

He added: "Covid-19 can hit people from every walk of life and as we join people from many different faiths in assuring his family of our condolences and prayers, I hope his passing will encourage our citizens not just in Keighley but across the district to be ever vigilant in maintaining precautions against the virus as this shocking news sinks in."

Councillir Rebecca Poulsen, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bradford Counci, added: “It is such sad news and on behalf of the Conservative Group I would like to pass on my condolences to Abid’s wife, family, friends and colleagues. 

"I know he was a popular Councillor in the Labour Group and in his local community and will be truly missed.  He was also immensely proud when he served as Lord Mayor of Bradford. 

"I’m sure all our thoughts and prayers are with his family today."

Councillor Hussain's funeral is due to be held tomorrow (Friday) at Keighley Jamia Masjid, before a burial at Utley Cemetery.