Tributes paid to a former Wigan councillor

Former councillor Stephen Murphy, who has died aged 71, pictured with his son Sam who has led the tributes
Former councillor Stephen Murphy, who has died aged 71, pictured with his son Sam who has led the tributes

Tributes have been paid to a former councillor and trade unionist who served in a string of public posts following his sudden death.

Stephen Murphy, who had two stints in the Wigan Council chamber representing Hindley Green and then Orrell, died on November 7 aged 71.

His death has come as a terrible shock to his family as he had not been ill and there was no warning.

And there has also been an outpouring of grief from many of the residents he helped as an elected representative, with the living room of his home now filled with cards paying tribute.

Mr Murphy worked as a miner and joined the trade union movement, also becoming active in politics around the time of the massive strike in the coal industry.

In later years he teamed up with his partner Eileen Rigby, who is also now a councillor in Pemberton, to jointly-own a day care nursery.

A backbencher who stood his political ground tenaciously, he never served in the ruling cabinet but did serve on the council’s licensing committee.

His family said his proudest achievement, though, was chairing the Greater Manchester Police Authority.

Coun Paul Kenny, chair of Makerfield Labour Party, said: “We are all deeply saddened by this very sad news. Steve was a stalwart of the Labour Party and trade union movement in the borough.

“His passing will be felt by many party members who were proud to call Steve a friend and comrade. Our thoughts are with Steve’s family at this difficult time.”

Away from politics Mr Murphy was an ardent Wigan Warriors fan and season-ticket holder.

His funeral is at Charnock Richard Crematorium on November 26 at 1.30pm, followed by a wake at the Delph Tavern in Orrell.

Mr Murphy’s son Sam, who followed his dad into politics for a time, lead the personal tributes.

Sam, 28, said: “He was passionate about public service but always put his family in front of everything.

“We are just completely in shock. It is a massive loss for Orrell and obviously for myself and our family.

“I honestly can’t count how many condolence cards we’ve received. He helped so many residents and that was day-to-day work for him.

“He was very stern and stubborn with his politics, if he thought he was right he would tell you. He was quite proud of that. I know some people didn’t like that style but he was old-fashioned like that. You always knew where he stood.”