A true gentleman, role model and super chap are just some of the words used to pay tribute to John Taylor following his death yesterday.
A councillor for 28 years, John was instrumental in the life of the community and had a huge love of Northumberland.
A retired farmer and estate manager, he represented the Longhoughton ward, which included Hedgeley, and held a number of offices including chairman and leader of the former Alnwick District Council (ADC).
Bill Batey, former chief executive of ADC, said: “John was a well-known and very effective local politician, and he kept in close contact with his electorate.
“He always made it his business to fully understand issues and make sound judgements before drawing his conclusions.
“John was exceptional at working behind the scenes to ensure improvements were delivered.
“With his strong leadership and particular focus on planning and affordable housing, which were issues he continued to champion under the unitary authority, he was instrumental in delivering improvements in Alnwick district.”
He served on the district council from 1986 to 2009 and has been a serving member of Northumberland County Council (NCC) since 2001.
Living at Denwick, he was also a parish councillor.
Friend, Coun Trevor Thorne, of Longframlington, said: “It is very sad that he has passed away. I served a long time with him on the district and county councils and I always looked at him as a role model.
“In all his time on the council, he really served his community. I was so proud to work with him and will try to continue his good work.
“He loved Northumberland and loved the countryside.
“He was a super chap and the great thing about John was that he had friends right across the political parties. He will be a big miss at the council.”
Alnwick Coun Gordon Castle said: “John Taylor was responsible for introducing me to local politics and persuading me to join the town council, so he has a lot to answer for. I worked with him, for him and sometimes on the other side of him for many, many years and he was a dedicated politician, it was his whole life.
“He was a well-known, hugely-respected councillor in north Northumberland and he will be a great loss.”
Alnwick Coun Heather Cairns added: “John Taylor has been a great friend and has given me huge support in my public career, although he always remained independent.
“When I was leader of ADC his independent group signed an agreement which kept us all in office and he conformed to that all the way through, and I was hugely grateful to him.
“He was a man who knew every corner of the county and people all over it and I shall miss his gems of information.”
John also had a wealth of experience in agriculture, working on hill and lowland farms as well as advising estates.
He was also the Gazette’s AO Farmer correspondent for a number of years.
Friend and farmer Scott Smith, from Seahouses, said: “He had experience of all types of land. He was always a very upright man, a deep thinker and had quite a strong faith which I think sustained him though all sorts, including his recent illness.”
Leader of NCC, Coun Grant Davey, said: “He was a long-standing and much-valued councillor who has made a huge contribution to his ward, to the former ADC, and more recently to NCC.”
Lib-Dem MP Sir Alan Beith said: “Coun Taylor was devoted to and deeply rooted in the Northumberland countryside and he worked constantly, with an independent mind on behalf of country people.”
John was also a loving husband, of 51 years, to Eileen, father to Sally and Emma and doted on his four grandchildren.