A RETIRED senior district councillor and retail industry official has died aged 71.

Tributes were paid at the funeral of Dr Kevin Hawkins, who had been ill with cancer.

He was brought up in Silsden and later worked as a researcher then lecturer in industrial relations at Bradford Management Centre.

He served as regional director for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in the West Midlands, and was awarded the OBE for his services in 2004.

One of the tributes delivered at his funeral described him as "irreplaceable", with another stating: "Kevin had a marvellous way with words, both spoken and written.

"He was always an interesting conversationalist, from Brexit and the current state of the Conservative Party to whether the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

"I am proud and privileged to have known my friend Kevin."

His family described him as an adventurous personality who pursued a wide range of interests during his life.

Dr Hawkins went to Keighley Boys Grammar School, then achieved a double first in history at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University.

He gained his Phd in 1981, after carrying out research into the brewing industry and the opposition it faced from the temperance movement.

He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts for 33 years, and performed in productions at what was then known as Keighley Little Theatre and Bingley Theatre.

He published several book and articles on industrial relations.

His engagement with amateur dramatics led to him meeting his future wife, Doreen Duff, at Keighley Little Theatre in 1970.

Doreen was originally from Kirkcaldy, in Fife, Scotland, and had transferred from Aberdeen to Keighley's Marks and Spencer store as personnel manager.

The couple married in 1972 and lived in Steeton before moving to Utley in 1982.

Dr Hawkins successfully stood as a Conservative councillor for Bradford Council's Silsden, Steeton, Eastburn and Addingham ward in 1975.

He was appointed chairman of the council’s recreation panel in 1976, and in 1977 he was made chairman of the corporate planning panel.

He was a member of Steeton Parish Council and a governor of South Craven and Oakbank Schools.

Upon leaving academia he took up his post at the CBI, after which he spent 15 years as media and communications director for the supermarket chain Safeway.

His final career role was as director general of the British Retail Consortium, retiring from this body in 2008.

In retirement he enjoyed cruise holidays and playing golf with his wife.

For the last 30 years of his life, he and his wife lived in Pangbourne, in Berkshire, where he kept up his passion for civic involvement, becoming vice chairman of the area's parish council.

Dr Hawkins was a member of the local Surgery Patient Participation Group, the Pangbourne Choral Society and The Springs Golf Club.

His funeral was held at West Berkshire Crematorium.