TRIBUTES have been paid to the former chairman of Rochford District Council, who has died at the age of 78.

Tony Humphries represented Rayleigh Central on Rochford District Council from May 2002 until his death.

He was also council chairman in 2009/10 and during his civic year helped raise £13,000 for Havens Hospices.

Mr Humphries is survived by his wife, Eunice, whom he married at Holy Trinity Church, Rayleigh, in 1957 He also leaves behind his daughters Debbie and Loraine. A third daughter, Christina, also died recently.

Mr Humphries, a former member of Rayleigh Rotary Club, also had seven grandchildren.

Keith Hudson, deputy leader of Rochford District Council who knew Mr Humphries for nine years, said: “If you knew Tony or had dealings with him in any way, be it with regard to the district or town councils, in business, or if you were part of his extensive circle of friends, you would know the one word that described him perfectly – gentleman. A man of his word, the sort of man you would want by your side when the chips were down.

“He contributed so much to the district, to Rayleigh and to the people and businesses of this area.

“He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. He was a very, very nice man.

“Our thoughts and warm regards are with his wife Eunice and his family.”

Mr Humphries was a former RAF serviceman and civil engineer and in later life had varied business interests, including owning a garden centre.

Hilary Metcalfe, Havens Hospices community fundraiser, said: “We are saddened to hear of Tony’s death. I met him during his reign as chairman, as he chose Havens Hospices as his charity of the year.

“His passion for the charity drove him to raise such a wonderful total – enough to fund more than 800 hours of nursing care at Fair Havens and Little Havens Children’s Hospice. We are incredibly grateful for his support.”

Mr Humphries, who had battled cancer in recent years, died earlier this week.