TRIBUTES have been paid to former Craven District Council chairman Donny Whaites who has died following a short illness.

Cllr Whaites, who was 71, represented Settle and Ribblebanks since 2004 and was council chairman between 2013 and 2014.

He served on the council's audit, scrutiny and policy committees, and represented the authority on a range of groups, including the Settle and Carlisle Railway Development Company, Settle Victoria Hall Trustees, Settle Area Swimming Pool, and the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Joint Advisory Committee.

He was born in Stainforth, and moved to Settle with his family when he was very young. He was married to Alice for more than 40 years, had two grown up children, Suzie and Stephen, and two grandchildren, Abigail and Zachary.

He owned his own coach company for most of his working life, providing a local bus service and transporting children to school.

Council chairman, Cllr Linda Brockbank said even though Cllr Whaites had not been well, his death had come as a shock.

Cllr Brockbank, who was vice chairman when Cllr Whaites was chairman, said he had taken on the role with great enthusiasm and humour, representing the district at many events and occasions.

"He certainly had a knack of lightening up meetings and made them almost enjoyable. He threw himself into the role with great enthusiasm and I shall miss him very much," she said.

Council leader, Cllr Richard Foster, said Cllr Whaites had great exuberance that could be summed up by him agreeing to be photographed by the Craven Herald in his swimming trunks and chains of office to promote the annual chairman's fundraising swim.

“Donny was a thoroughly decent man and a true local councillor, who well known across the generations in Settle.

"During his time as chairman he bought real enthusiasm to his role and always looked for the positive, he even posed in Craven Pool in his chains of office to promote the Chairman’s Charity Swim to raise funds for the new A&E department at Airedale Hospital."

Cllr Foster added he would be missed by many people. "He was gregarious, outgoing and very friendly, who during his year of office made numerous new friends with other civic heads across the county."

Cllr Chris Moorby said he had been driven to school by Cllr Whaite's father before 'young Danny' had taken over the business.

"He became a friend, I would go to him for advice, and I will always remember him," he said.

A Thanksgiving service will take place tomorrow (Friday, march 27) at 1pm at Settle Parish Church, Holy Ascension, following a private family cremation service.