Social media has been flooded with tributes to Hastings Borough Council leader Jeremy Birch today.
Residents and figures from across the political divide have been united in paying tribute to a ‘true champion’ of Hastings and St Leonards.
Labour candidate Sarah Owen was one of the first to pay tribute to Cllr Birch, writing on her Facebook page: “Hastings and St Leonards have lost a true champion.
“I am devastated by the news that Jeremy has died.
“He was a friend and an inspiration to me.
“If anyone epitomised dedication to Hastings and St Leonards, it was Jeremy.
“Our local Labour Party is an incredibly close-knit family and Jeremy has been at its heart – we will all miss him deeply.
“Our thoughts are with Jeremy’s wife, children and grandchildren.”
Twitter also saw a stream of tributes to the leader who was described as a ‘great ambassador’ for the towns.
@TheStLeonard wrote: “Very sad news. RIP Jeremy Birch, always working so hard for Hastings & St Leonard’s.”
@CSTownTeam wrote: “We have just heard the sad news about the passing of our friend and Town Team champion, Jeremy Birch. Devastating”
The loss of such a prominent figure crossed political lines on this, a day of national significance, with not only Cllr Birch’s colleagues but his opponents paying their respects.
@AmberRuddhr wrote: “Very, very sorry to hear about the passing of Cllr Jeremy Birch, a man who cared passionately about Hastings and was admired by all.”
The University of Brighton also put out a blog paying tribute to Cllr Birch, describing him as a ‘great friend of the university’.
The full blog is available here: University pays tribute to Cllr Jeremy Birch.
On our own website, users left comments praising Cllr Birch’s commitment and integrity.
Boris Farage wrote: “How terribly sad. He was the best council leader in Hastings for generations and provided the town with much needed leadership and direction. Condolences to his partner and family.”
Aquarius 54 wrote: “A brilliant passionate leader for the town...My sympathy goes to his family and friends...he will be sadly missed.”
While Pierre 1066 appeared to sum up the feelings of many when he wrote: “A very sad day for Hastings and St Leonards – a man who was so dedicated to our town working tirelessly for all of us – sincere sympathy to all his family.”
Tomorrow’s Observer will carry a black masthead alongside tributes to Cllr Birch.