COUNCILLORS have paid tribute to former Lord Mayor Barry Thorne with the current mayor describing him as “Mr Keighley”.

The heartfelt tributes in the council chamber at City Hall came just a day before mourners packed Keighley Shared Church for Barry’s funeral.

Civic leaders and representatives from many organisations that had worked with the larger-than-life politician were joined by members of the public he had helped during more than four decades in public life.

The Rev Jonathan Pritchard, who knew Barry well, led the service and was among those who told anecdotes from his life and spoke of his wide-ranging campaigning for social justice, particularly on racial, disability and animal welfare issues.

Barry was for about 30 years a Bradford councillor, his roles including Lord Mayor and chairman of Leisure Services, and in more recent years he had been a Haworth parish and Keighley town councillor.

During this month’s meeting of Bradford’s full council, the council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Barry touched the lives of so many people.”

The current Bradford Lord Mayor, Keighley councillor Doreen Lee, said: “Barry would always fight for Keighley, and I once said to him ‘you think you’re Mr Keighley.’ He’d say to me’ you think you’re Mrs Keighley.’ “The town has lost a great Mr Keighley.”

Cllr Lee outlined the late colleague’s career to her fellow councillors, including his time as Lord Mayor in 1992-93 when Barry and wife Patricia’s characters shone strongly.

Cllr Lee added: “Their opening and welcome natures endeared them to many as they undertook a busy day of official engagements throughout the district. For many years Barry had been a passionate campaigner for the rights of people with learning disabilities.”

Writing on Facebook after the funeral, Barry’s son Jay thanked the many people who had visited his father during his final weeks and supported his family afterwards.

He said: “I’ve always been proud of my dad’s passion and determination to fight for the rights of people who needed help and, to see so many people who came to pay their respect at the funeral was incredibly touching without question.

“In the not too distant future I want to commemorate my dad by helping families with disabled children or relatives by providing self-catering holiday accommodation where I live, in Romania.”

One long-time friend, Bradford actor John Lambert, wrote: “It was an intensely sad day as it was the end of an era, but heartening to see the range of people who came to pay their respects. Barry was a giant in the field of helping the disadvantaged and equality.”

District councillor Zafar Ali this week told the Keighley News how he first got to know Barry in 1973 when he introduced him to Keighley’s Asian community.

Cllr Ali added: “I worked with Barry on many equality issues, and projects to bring communities together. He was a very strong advocate of people living together in harmony.”