TRIBUTES have been paid to a "true community champion" who has died aged 89 after contracting Covid-19.

Stan Wade, a former chairman of New Forest District Council (NFDC), was part of a political dynasty that also included his son and grandson.

Mr Wade was a Liberal Democrat member of both NFDC and Hythe and Dibden Parish Council for more than 30 years.

He also served on the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) as well as helping launch Hythe Community Association, the Hythe branch of Age Concern and the Horrill Care and Wellbeing Centre in Dibden.

Dibden Purlieu resident Norman Bareham said: "Stan was a true community champion who worked tirelessly for the good of others."

Mr Wade's son Malcolm and grandson Alex are both members of the parish and district councils.

Cllr Malcolm Wade said his father spent a great deal of time helping others and inspired other family members to continue the legacy he started.

Cllr Alex Wade added: "He lived a long and happy life full of amazing achievements.

"Stan was a bit of a legend in my eyes and certainly inspired many around him including my dad and myself as we made a family tradition of getting involved in local politics.

"He had a heart of gold, vast intelligence and a cheeky sense of humour."

In a message to Mr Wade's family Hampshire county councillor Peter Chegwyn said: "Your dad was everything a good councillor should be and more.

"I greatly enjoyed campaigning with him many years ago and recall how well respected he was by all who knew him. A genuine, decent and lovely man."

Cllr Edward Heron, deputy leader of the district council, also paid tribute.

He said: "He worked tirelessly for the community and will be greatly missed. "I remember working with him on the NPA, where his knowledge and experience was so helpful during some challenging times."

Mr Wade, of Hythe, joined the district council in 1979 and remained on the authority until 2015. He was chairman in 1995-96.

Speaking at this week's cabinet meeting the council leader, Cllr Barry Rickman, said: "Stan Wade was an amazing councillor who I really looked up to when I joined the council."

Cllr David Harrison, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, also paid tribute.

He said: "I worked very closely with Stan over many years and through him understood what becoming a real community champion involved.

"Some of the things he achieved for Hythe and Dibden will stand as a long-lasting legacy for all his work.

"My only sadness is that his work was never properly recognised in the honours system, but that says more about the honours system than it does about Stan."

One social media user described Mr Wade as a "true gentleman and a very special man who cared deeply about the community he lived in".

Another added: "What an incredible man. We were all blessed to have him representing us."