HUNDREDS of mourners gathered at the Priory Church for the funeral of long-standing Christchurch and Dorset councillor David John Fox OBE yesterday.

Mr Fox was an active member of the Conservative party for most of his life and served on Dorset County Council, Christchurch Borough Council and the Dorset Fire Authority.

During his years of public service, for which he was awarded an OBE in 1991, the father-of-two served two terms as mayor of Christchurch, one as leader of Dorset County Council and was chairman of the Dorset Fire Authority for eight years.

Firefighters formed a guard of honour as his coffin was carried into the church, where family, friends and loved ones of the former Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset were joined by local dignitaries, including the mayor of Christchurch and the current Lord Lieutenant of Dorset.

Judy Jamieson MBE, chairman of Burton Parish Council, and Darran Gunter, chief fire officer for Dorset, led tributes during the service, which was conducted by Reverend Christopher Mann.

Mr Fox, who was 79 when he died, leaves his wife Norma and two sons Quillon and Tavis.

In a statement his family said they felt honoured so many people had come to pay their respects.

They said: “We are both humbled and honoured that David is being recognised by so many friends and colleagues for his years of contribution to public service.

“We feel that it is a true measure of the man that he never realised how respected he really was and he continued to work hard for the community up until last year when he stepped down from Dorset County Council due to his declining health.

“The family would like to thank the mayor and councillors of Christchurch and the Fire Service for recognising him in this way.”