FORMER Alcester mayor and community champion Eric Payne has died.

Eric, who lived in Alcester all his life, died on October 10 following a short illness.

Born in Bleachfield Street, he was the third of seven children, and was educated at St Faiths School.

He spent most of his working life working in Local Light Industry and Food Distribution employed as a production operator and held several managerial positions during that time.

He was a councillor for Alcester Town Council for more than 16 years during which time he was town mayor on two occasions - proving to be incredibly popular.

He served as chairman of the district council between 2011 and 2012 and during his time on the district council was vice-chairman of overview and scrutiny committee and served on planning committee (West).

Throughout his career in politics he has been called a true gentle man and thought of as highly respected.

Councillor Andrew Foster, mayor of Alcester, said: "Everyone who knew Eric will be extremely sad to hear about his passing.

"My personal memory of Eric will be of his kindness, approachability and his easy going, self-effacing charm. He was an ever present figure in the town, always out and about talking to people, supporting and helping the community that he loved.

"On behalf of the Alcester Town Council our deepest sympathy goes out to Eric's wife Maggie, son Nick and daughter Charlotte. He will be dearly missed."

Councillor Christopher Kettle, chairman of Stratford District Council, added: “We have lost a highly respected and conscientious councillor, who was well liked and valued by his colleagues.

"Throughout my time as a councillor, I always recognised in Eric his quiet common sense approach to issues and problems.

"He was always ready to listen and his comments were always well thought through. He devoted much time and energy to the council both as the former chairman, carrying the flag for the district, and as a councillor."

He added: "We will miss him and his loss will be felt across the district."