A LONG-SERVING Highland councillor has died suddenly while on holiday.
John Ford, who represented Culloden and Ardersier in Inverness, was on holiday in Jersey when he died yesterday, aged 85.
He was the oldest councillor in the local authority and had described himself as the grandfather of the council.
Tributes have been paid to the Labour politician with colleagues praising his commitment to local issues and his varied knowledge and interests.
Cllr Ford was elected in May 2003 and had planned to step down ahead of the local government elections next year.
Fellow Culloden and Ardersier ward councillor Roddy Balfour was shocked and saddened by the news.
“I’m very sorry to hear this,” he said.
“The best way to describe him is a very affable fellow.
“It is a great loss to both the community and the council. He always had something interesting to say and he will be much missed.”
A keen train enthusiast, many of Mr Ford’s holidays involved long rail journeys. He studied as an engineer and worked in the electricity supply industry.
He had taken a step back from some aspects of the role following the passing of his wife Brenda last year but took great comfort in spending time with his three sons and grandchildren.
Highland Council Labour group leader Jimmy Gray paid tribute to cllr Ford’s good humour and pleasant nature.
“John had a wide range of interests and knowledge which was very obvious during his time as a councillor and helped the council a lot,” he said.
“He was very calm and was never aggressive in his politics but if he thought something was a lot of rubbish he wouldn’t hesitate in saying so.
“I will remember his great sense of humour, we had a lot of laughs in the group. He was the elder statesman of the council and if he could help someone he always would.”
Inverness provost Helen Carmichael passed condolences to the family.
“John was a very hard working and conscientious councillor, who was very close to the community he served,” she said.
“He was a popular member of the council and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”