Tributes have been paid to a community stalwart and former Mayor of Workington who has died at the age of 90.

John Bechelli served on Workington Town Council from 1995 to 2015 and was deputy mayor in 2001/2 and mayor in 2002/3.

He was a committee member of Senhouse Street Working Men’s Club for 50 or more years, serving as chairman and secretary during that time.

Mr Bechelli grew up on Senhouse Street and Barnes Road and attended St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s schools before joining the Royal Navy.

He later worked as a miner. His daughter Pauline said: “He retired when he was 50 and he never looked back.”

But Mr Bechelli, who represented St Michael’s ward on the town council, found plenty to occupy his time in his retirement, always finding ways to help the community and its people.

He was a leader at Workington Sea Cadets for a time, and was a founder member and chairman of the Senhouse Area Community Group.

He was a regular attendee at Our Lady & St Michael’s Church at Banklands until his health would no longer allow.

Mr Bechelli was married to the late Greta, who served as his mayoress, and they had five children, Pauline, Ronnie, Neil, and the late Jackie and Laal Bish.

They also had eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Pauline, who is stewardess at Senhouse Street Working Men’s Club, said: “He was a lovely man. You couldn’t have met a nicer gentleman. He was a lovely dad, granda and great-granda and a great friend to everybody.”

Speaking of his time as mayor, she added: “He thought it was great. He loved it.”

Fellow St Michael’s ward town councillor Billy Miskelly said: “When I first went into local politics John Bechelli acted as a mentor to me. He was a personal friend as well.

“He was a great servant of the Labour party, a great ambassador for Workington and he was very proud of his town and his family.

“It was thanks to his endeavours that Senhouse Street Working Men’s Club became one of the prime working men’s clubs in not just Workington but Cumbria.

“He was a well-respected member of the community and he’ll be sadly missed but fondly remembered.”

Mayor of Workington Barbara Cannon said: “He was a proper servant of his community.”

Mr Bechelli died on January 5, just over a month after his 90th birthday. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer eight months before his death.

His funeral will be held at Our Lady & St Michael’s Church at Banklands on Monday, January 14 at 11am, followed by interment with his wife, son and daughter at Salterbeck Cemetery, and a gathering at the club.