Heartbroken family pays tribute to popular former independent councillor

George Fairhurst, who represented Standish with Langtree ward in the council chamber for 15 years, has died aged 79.

Sunday, 18th April 2021, 2:56 pm
George Fairhurst, who was a councillor for the Standish Independents

He was a prominent campaigner on a wide variety of issues in the ward, including problems with the new housing developments in Standish protecting green spaces and road safety.

In 2017 he also set up a bereavement group following the loss of his wife Maria after 51 years of marriage.

His son Gareth Fairhurst, who has also spent time as a councillor for the Standish Independents, spoke of his father's popularity with local residents and his determination to help others.

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Coun George Fairhurst at the junction in the middle of Standish

He said: "He was a true ward councillor. He was involved with all the groups and if anybody had a problem and rang him up he would be round.

"Every time he was walking his dog in the village he would be commanding an audience and chatting away to people.

"He saw himself as doing his job as a councillor. He treated somebody's bins being missed or somebody needing something simple doing equally with the big, important things.

"He was a very practical councillor. He was just a helpful guy, a good all-rounder. He was always thinking of everybody in Standish."

Gareth, George and Debbie Fairhurst, who all served as independent councillors

Mr Fairhurst got into local politics in the early 2000s after a couple of people suggested that due to his prominence in the Standish community he would make a good elected representative.

At one point the Standish Independents held all three seats in the ward and Gareth said his father was particularly proud and humbled by the strength of support for him when local and general elections took place at the same time.

He was a well-known advocate for safety at the Standish crossroads and campaigned for improvements to the junction throughout his time in the chamber.

He also opposed housebuilding schemes in the ward, believing homes were being constructed without sufficient infrastructure, and stood against plans to put a car park on the Rec.

His work for the community also included bringing the Ramp Riders to St Marie's Primary School during the summer holidays so children could ride bikes, scooters or skateboards on the equipment.

A huge fan of rugby league, Mr Fairhurst was an avid Wigan supporter.

He became coach of the Standish Owls junior team after he went to a meeting and realised they didn't have someone to train the youngsters.

He was also an open-age referee known among teams for his strict discipline.

Following the death of his beloved wife Maria he started a bereavement group at the Lychgate Tavern which quickly grew and regularly supported between 20 and 30 people.

Gareth said: "The bereavement group really shows what type of person he was: he was experiencing something, thought others must be experiencing the same and wanted to pull people together to help each other.

"It really sums my dad up. If there was a problem he would try to solve it."

Born in Pemberton, Mr Fairhurst worked for bus-building company Northern Counties before spending time at Pemberton Caravans and trailer tents manufacturer Conway in Appley Bridge.

He lived in Standish for almost half a century and his death on Friday has been a huge shock to his close-knit family.

Gareth said: "Both my sister and I are heartbroken. This has really hit us hard as a family.

"It has been a real shock, it was completely unexpected and came out of the blue.

“We’re just incredibly grateful that we were able to spend his last few hours with him.”

Mr Fairhurst is survived by his son Gareth, his daughter Angela Bland and his five grandchildren Liam and Luke Bland and Gareth, Thomas and Hannah Fairhurst.

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