MEMBERS the Ledbury branch of Amnesty International are to pay tribute to chairman Jim Absalom, who died on Saturday, aged 80.

They will gather at the Leadon Bank Day Centre on Monday, January 19, to honour Mr Absalom, who founded the branch two years ago.

Treasurer Roger Hughes said a new chairman and a secretary would also be elected at the meeting, as both posts had been filled by Mr Absalom.

Mr Hughes, of Newbury Park said: "It is even more important now to ensure the continuation of the Ledbury group, It was Jim's baby and it will be a memorial to Jim to keep the group going.

"He was a man's man but also a compassionate person. I found that unusual for a man of his background, who had served in the army and the prison service. But he hadn't been hardened by the system."

Mr Absalom's most high-profile success as chairman was in bringing the Nobel Peace Prize exhibition to the Burgage Hall in November. However, at the time he announced that he was planning to stand down, because of ill health and his age.

Concerns were also expressed in the autumn about the level of support for branch meetings, with only around 10 people attending regularly out of a local membership of 40.

Mr Hughes said: "Obviously on Monday there will be words spoken and thoughts about Jim and I would encourage more people to come to the meeting next week. It's even more important with Jim's passing."

Mr Absalom was a glider soldier in the Second World War and rose to become a captain with the Parachute Regiment. He joined the prison service in 1948 and was a deputy regional director at his retirement in 1981. He was also a former governor of Gloucester Prison.

He will be buried at a "green" burial ground at Westhope, near Craven Arms in Shropshire, at noon tomorrow (Saturday), following a short, informal committal. Donations in lieu of flowers should be sent to Abbotsfield Funeral Directors, in Bye Street, to go to Amnesty International UK and the Royal Star and Garter Home at Richmond.