TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular Labour councillor who lost his battle with lung cancer.
John Gallagher, who represented Sandhill ward, died on Saturday at his Thorney Close home, surrounded by his family.
The 51-year-old was dad to Rebecca, Liam and Michael, and husband to Jacqui.
“He did a lot of work in the community and was very well liked by the councillors,” she said. “He was a real gentleman.”
Coun Gallagher, who worked as a sheet metal worker for 27 years, was in remission from cancer of the tonsils when we has elected in May.
However, the disease returned to his lungs in August.
He received a course of chemotherapy which finished in December and carried on helping his constituents.
Jacqui said: “When we has very poorly he was still getting phone calls and we were telling people that he would write letters for them and sort things out.
“He was still helping people right towards the end.”
She added: “The amount of cards and phone calls we have had has been unreal – really moving.”
Coun Debra Waller was elected at the same time in Sandhill in last year’s elections.
“We both came into the ward together,” she said. “And if we needed anything we both tried to help each other out. We worked well together.
“It was something that he was quite excited about doing. He had a passion and wanted to do what was right for the area.
“He was a really nice man who would do anything to help anyone.”
Fellow Sandhill Coun Dave Allan said he was deeply saddened by the news of his colleague’s death.
“John was a gentleman and a gentle man. He cared about people, he cared about the community and his ward.
“He had taken to his role as councillor very comfortably.
“He liked the work he did and the people liked him. He will be sadly missed.”
Coun Gallagher was a SAFC fan and season ticket holder.
“It’s really sad that he died on the day Sunderland had such a good result against Liverpool,” said Coun Allen. “He would have loved to see that.”
Council leader Paul Watson said: “I think I speak for everyone at Sunderland City Council when I say that we are saddened by the sudden loss of John Gallagher.
“John was a proud member of the city council and in the time that he was a member for the Sandhill ward.
“His passion for the area he represented and for the city as a whole was clear for all to see.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
The funeral will be held at Sunderland Crematorium on Monday, at 11am.