TRIBUTES have been paid to a Basildon Labour stalwart “whose enthusiasm and support never faltered”.

George Wake passed away on April 25 and his life is set to be celebrated on Monday at his funeral.

The 95-year-old was an avid Labour supporter, and had been a member of the Labour party since the 1940s.

Despite never standing as a local councillor in Basildon, George adopted an elder statesman role, as an experienced and well-respected public figure, often passing on his advice and wisdom to younger members and potential candidates. One of those candidates was a young Gavin Callaghan, who is now the leader of the Labour party in Basildon. Mr Callaghan said: “I’m devastated to learn of the death of Labour stalwart George Wake. George was brilliant. He’d attend all meetings and insist on being involved in delivering our leaflets and knocking doors, in spite of age slowing him down. For me personally, he was fantastic. Before full council meetings or speeches or hustings in the 2015 General Election, he’d grab me by the arm minutes before it started and with that mischievous twinkle in his eye, whisper, “give ‘em hell.” I’d always tell him I’d do my best.”

George’s son, Dave, 58, said: “George was a political and trade union activist for all his life. Firstly in Barking and Dagenham and for the last 33 years in Basildon. It was a life spent supporting the left, campaigning around local and national issues.

“From hosting flying pickets at his home during the 1972 Miners’ Strike, who were actually picketing his own place of work at West Ham Power Station, to local campaigns against issues that he felt had a detrimental effect on his local community. Always active, right up until the end, delivering election addresses and attending meetings.

“George leaves behind a large family of four sons, nine grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and three great, great grandchildren. Never a grandad but always a George as he never wanted to sound old. He leaves behind a political legacy of one who was a ‘doer’ who knew the best way to get any message across was to talk to people. He will be sadly missed by family, friends and all who knew him and respected him.”