TRIBUTES have flooded in for passionate councillor, paratrooper and firefighter who died on Monday evening, aged 66.

Diagnosed three years ago with bone cancer in his right hip, Councillor Peter Watts died peacefully at home surrounded by his family.

He remained a public servant to the very end, taking constituents’ phone calls from his sick bed, two days before his death.

His wife, Rhona said: "He believed in supporting what local people want, and he believed that if you live in a community, you should put something back."

And Mr Watts lived by that belief; serving for 12 years as a Herefordshire firefighter and rising to the rank of Acting Sergeant in the Paratroop Regiment after 12 years.

His sense of duty has been passed on to his youngest daughter, Emma, who has become a county councillor in Wiltshire.

Phill Bettington worked alongside him as a county councillor in both the Ledbury ward, and a town councillor for many years.

He said: “It was expected, but it’s still a shock to the system and a great loss to the community.”

Town clerk Karen Mitchell added: “His dedication throughout the years and his service to the people of the town is to be applauded.

“He was in terrible pain a lot of the time, but just carried on. It's such a loss and I shall miss him greatly.”

Cllr Watts first entered local politics in 2000, as a town councillor, a role he had to step away from last summer due his ill health.

However he continued as a representative for Ledbury on the county council, a position he held since 2003.

A vocal supporter of his town, Cllr Watts – who lived on the Deer Park estate – helped save scores of jobs in Ledbury with his work securing a move by Universal Beverages Limited onto the Jam Factory site in 2008.

In recent weeks Cllr Watts had been at St Michael’s Hospice, and his family praised the care given to him by nurses there.

Emma added that her father remained brave to the end.

She said: “He was very good at showing a front, and very stoic.”

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Ledbury Funeral Services, and although a date has not yet been set, details on the service and on any donations people may want to make will available later in the week.

For more information please contact Hilary at Ledbury Funeral Services on 01531 633388.