TRIBUTES have been paid to a former councillor - awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to Oxspring - who has died aged 93.

John Wade was a chairman of the old Penistone Rural District Council, Oxspring Parish Council and a member of Barnsley Council.

He was also an avid motorcycle racer and it was his preferred transport to get between his home in Oxspring and his job in the engineering industry.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, his frequency to travel by motorbike called on him to overtake slow-moving lorries on country roads and he came up with the idea of a reflective ‘long vehicle’ sign as a safety reminder for other motorists in the same position, persuading the authorities to adopt his suggestion which remains a legal requirement for larger lorries.

He spent half a century on the board of governors at Oxspring Primary School, which he had attended as a child, standing down only when he reached his 90s. He was involved in three campaigns to fight off closure proposals for the school during that time.

Despite his retirement and advancing age, Mr Wade continued to play an active role in the future of the village he championed and only weeks before his death, following a short period of ill health, raised concerns that a planning application for new housing in the village could lead to the destruction of the last of three rookeries in the area.

John leaves a widow, Betty, and daughter Cheryl. His funeral takes place at St John’s Church, Penistone, on December 23 at 2pm, with cremation at Grenoside.

Ann Walker, chairman of Oxspring Parish Council, said: “We were very sorry to hear of John’s death. He was a long-standing member of the parish council and it has come as a shock. He had been pottering about quite a bit of late. It has hit us hard. All we can say is he had a good innings. The parish council’s thoughts go to his family. It is very sad. He will be missed by everyone in the village.”

Although keen to preserve the heritage of the village, he was also a staunch advocate of development to ensure the community progressed, speaking out in opposition when housing was proposed close to a historic pack horse bridge. But he supported plans for new housing elsewhere in the village because that would have brought the affordable homes needed by existing residents otherwise priced out of the housing market. Earlier this year he was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Oxspring.

The investiture was conducted by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, Andrew Coombe, at Barnsley Town Hall in May.

Coun Robert Barnard, chairman Penistone Area Council said: “I knew John for more than 35 years. He was a well-known local character who made a great contribution to the area over many decades, a fount of knowledge on many issues.

“I also recall John climbing a ladder in a howling gale with a blowtorch to light the beacon for the Queen - he had rags and a can of petrol just in case the torch didn’t work. He had his own approach to health and safety.”