Tributes have been paid to a "wonderful" councillor who has died following a battle with cancer.

Conservative Duncan Fairbairn served his community for more than four decades, stepping forward at parish, borough and county level.

The 78-year-old was a serving member of both Cumbria County Council and Allerdale Council when he died on Tuesday.

In Allerdale he represented the Warnell ward, covering the likes of Caldbeck, Rosley and Westward, since 2003 and at county level he served firstly from 1977 to 1981 and again from 2001 in the Thursby division.

Cross-party tributes have been paid to Mr Fairbairn, a father-of-three.

Tony Markley, who represents the Solway Coast on the county council, was the leader of Allerdale Council's Conservative group up until a few weeks ago.

"Duncan was one of the first people I met when I came into being a councillor," he told The Cumberland News .

"He kept me right and taught me the ropes. He was an extremely knowledgeable person and dedicated to his area.

"He was a wonderful man and he will be a big loss to the community."

The leader of the county council's Conservative group, James Airey, said: “Duncan was an excellent councillor and brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the group. It was a privilege to have known and worked alongside him and my thoughts go out to his family at this sad time.”

As a councillor he also worked hard to support the youth of his ward in education and sport, and saw the well-being of children as a priority.

Tony Annison, current leader of the Allerdale Conservatives, said that councillor Fairbairn was the reason he became involved in politics in the first place.

He said: “I am heart-broken. Duncan was a principled gentleman Conservative who mentored me and guided me. He continued to do so until very recently."

He was also a member of RSPB and Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

A keen sportsman, he spent many years playing and umpiring hockey with other interests including walking, gardening, cycling reading.

He was a member of Wigton Rugby Club and a season ticket holder at Carlisle United. He is also keen on cricket, and was a life member of Cumberland Cricket.

Angela Kendall, Labour councillor for Maryport, said: “I think we are all in agreement. He was a gentleman and I am sure he will be remembered at full council.”