Tributes have flooded in for a former trade union activist who devoted his life to helping people across east and west Cumbria.

Ged Caig spent a huge part of his working life as a regional official with the GMB union in the county, battling to uphold the rights of workers, while more recently he had represented Castle ward on Carlisle City Council.

He died at The Cumberland Infirmary on Saturday.

Mr Caig – whose son Tony is a respected goalkeeper who has played for Carlisle United and Workington Reds – grew up in Cleator Moor, and was known as a Labour activist who relished defending worker rights.

“He had very strong principles,” said his friend and former colleague Steve Gibbons, who worked with Mr Caig at the GMB.

Mr Gibbons, who is now with the Unite union, said: “Ged was a proper trade unionist and Labour supporter.

“I first knew him at the Kangol factory [in Cleator] and went on a course with him in 1997. He was always somebody who helped and advised me, and it was always good advice. He helped make people’s lives better every day.

“He was a regional organiser with the GMB but that was never just a job to Ged. It was his whole philosophy. He was also always fun to be with – he always put a smile on your face.”

Carlisle City Council’s former deputy leader Elsie Martlew, who stepped down as a councillor in the election last week, also knew Mr Caig for many years.

“Ged was such a genuine person,” she said.

“He was a person you could totally rely on and a committed socialist. He was a good friend. He was a very kind man and he was always there to help Eric [Elsie’s husband, and Carlisle’s last Labour MP].

“He was also a proud and loving dad. I’ve known him for years. We often used to see him watching Carlisle United. Ged had a wicked sense of humour. He was an official in the GMB, which was my union, and he was a member of the Labour Party and helped out when he retired.

“That was when he decided to put his expertise to good use by becoming a councillor. Ged was always positive – especially during his illness.”

Tribute was also paid by the current Carlisle City Council leader Colin Glover. He said: “Ged always had a very strong commitment to fairness – to creating a fairer society and serving his community in Castle ward.

“He always wanted to do that to the best of his ability.

“He never did a job half-heartedly. He dedicated his life to helping others. He did that as a union official and his work as a councillor was a natural extension of that.”

On a personal level, said Mr Glover, he too remembered Mr Caig’s sense of humour and his skill as a raconteur.

“He always had a tale to tell,” he said, adding: “There will be a lot people at his funeral.”

GMB union regional secretary Billy Coates, who worked with Mr Caig, said: “He was genuine, hard-working, honest and very effective in his job. His ambition was to help people.”

Mr Caig frequently spoke on local and national issues. Last year he condemned the Government for elements of the Trade Union Bill which some critics said amounted to a move to silence workers.

When he was elected in 2014, Mr Caig, who was 64, replaced the outgoing Liberal Democrat Olwyn Luckley.

At the time, he said: “I was a member of Cleator Moor town council and politics is in my blood. I thought I have got quite a bit to offer and have the understanding because I have been representing people all my life. I just want to continue in the role as long as I can and as long as the electorate want me.”