TRIBUTE has been paid to a stalwart of Keighley's blind association after he lost a long battle against illness.

Kevin Baldwin – who was chief executive of sight airedale – has died, aged 61, at Manorlands hospice in Oxenhope.

He joined sight airedale, then Keighley and District Association for the Blind, as an administrator in 1988.

A massive list of achievements has been notched-up over the years by the charity, which has just celebrated its 110th anniversary.

And chairman Keith Trott said many of the successes wouldn't have happened without Mr Baldwin's influence.

"He was totally dedicated to sight airedale," he said. "His devotion was absolutely remarkable.

"I became a director of the charity in 2003, however I'd known Kevin for a long time before that.

"During the past 14 years we had not only been colleagues, but we became very good friends."

Antony Horner, the charity's ICT manager, also pays tribute.

"Kevin will be greatly missed by all at sight airedale and the countless number of sight-impaired people whose lives he has helped improve over the past 29 years," he said.

Mr Baldwin – and twin brother Ian – was born in Keighley and educated at Ermysted's Grammar School, Skipton.

He worked at Airedale Hospital for eight years, until 1982, when he took-up a post as materials manager at the Yorkshire Clinic in Cottingley.

In June, 1988, he was interviewed for the administrator job at the blind association and started work there in October that year.

At that time the association had 600 registered members and two residential care homes, in Keighley and Bingley.

John Cope, of Lidget in Oakworth, knew Mr Baldwin from his Airedale Hospital days.

"He was a lovely man and always extremely helpful," he said.

"Plus we had a common bond of supporting Halifax Town FC!"

Sight airedale's numerous landmarks during Mr Baldwin's time with the organisation included the launch of a Silsden social centre in 1992, a major refurbishment of the Scott Street premises in 1996-97 to create the vision resource centre, the introduction of computer studies classes in 1998 and the opening of an online centre four years later.

In 2005, the Charity Commission gave permission for Ilkley, Burley and Menston to be included in the association's beneficiary area.

Mr Baldwin organised a programme of events – in 2007 – to celebrate the charity's centenary, including a visit by the Duke of Gloucester to open the newly-refurbished Lena Anderton Meeting Room.

And he was behind a project which earlier this year saw the installation of a tactile map of the Scott Street centre, marking sight airedale's 110th birthday.

Mr Baldwin – who lived at Skipton – leaves a daughter, Millie, his twin brother, sister-in-law and nephew.

The funeral service is at Skipton Crematorium at 2.10pm tomorrow (Sept 22).