TOUCHING tributes have been paid at the funeral of a renowned Labour councillor and community stalwart.
Local leaders put aside their political differences and joined with friends and family members to honour Derek Bateman, who died suddenly at his Ellesmere Port home on Saturday, July 30, aged 62.
More than 400 people gathered at St Paul's Church, Chester Road, Hooton, yesterday to honour the leader of the Labour group on Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) who served the county of Cheshire for nearly 40 years.
Among many politicians at the funeral were Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Andrew Miller, the Mayor of Ellesmere Port and Neston, Cllr Angela Claydon and Cllr Justin Madders, leader of the former Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council.
Police and fire chiefs also turned out to honour Cllr Bateman who defied all the odds by resuming a distinguished local government career following open heart surgery.
His wife Jenny, his children and grandchildren all followed the hearse, which was covered in a Labour Party flag and flowers, into a packed church.
At the service the Rev Keith Howard described Cllr Bateman as “the big gentle giant who always put the people of Ellesmere Port first”.
On behalf of Mrs Bateman, Mr Howard said: “He wanted to be remembered as a man who gave his all, with all his heart.”
Former Cheshire County Council education chairman, Cllr Peter Nurse, also paid tribute to his former colleague who began his political in career in 1974 when he was elected to represent Stanlow on Ellesmere Port Borough Council, becoming a county councillor for Sutton and Rivacre three years later.
Born in Ellesmere Port, the former Vauxhall apprentice and shop steward had spent a lifetime in politics, rising through the party ranks to become deputy leader, leader and father of the former county council. He was also a long-serving member of Cheshire Police Authority and the Local Government Association.
At the service his daughter Jacqueline read a poem about her late father and paid tribute to her “very own stepping stone”.
Family member Pat Howarth described him as a man who “always aimed to please”.
Cllr Bateman leaves his wife and his children Hilton, Jacqueline, Sean, Wayne and Craig, his 11 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Donations were given to the Countess of Chester Hospital Foundation Trust and Broadgreen Hospital, Liverpool.