TRIBUTES have been paid to a man who dedicated much of his life to helping blind people.

John William Bailey, of Haxby, near York, who was the former national appeals director of Guide Dogs For The Blind, died aged 81.

Mr Bailey, who moved to York in the early 1960s, was born and grew up in Liverpool where he inherited a love of Everton Football Club.

His other great passion developed after losing his sight at the age of 28, when his work for Guide Dogs For The Blind began in earnest.

Mr Bailey was known as a generous man who committed himself to everything he started. These attributes became of great benefit to the Guide Dogs charity to which he devoted much of his life.

His son, Howard, said Mr Bailey remained fiercely independent after losing his sight. On one occasion, when invited to give a lecture on guide dogs in Japan, he memorised his 12-page speech by heart.

In his younger years he joined his brother in Canada, working in administration for the Hudson Bay Company, and intended to emigrate there but returned to complete his National Service. It was on a later visit to Canada he lost his sight, and returned to England for treatment and the rehabilitation process.

In 1954, he married Irene Joyce and became a father when Howard was born in 1956.

Mr Bailey was appeals director for the north east branch of Guide Dogs For The Blind for 25 years, even running the office from the front room of his house for 15 of those years.

He not only raised funds for the cause but offered support to local volunteers, helping them to raise funds themselves.

He spent hours travelling the country, from the Scottish Borders down to Cambridge, working tirelessly for the charity.

His wife, who died in 2002, acted as his driver and secretary, allowing him to perform his role so passionately. He moved to the national office of Guide Dogs for the Blind as appeals director, and lived in Windsor for a while although York remained his home.

A celebration of Mr Bailey’s life will be held at York Crematorium at 10.20am on Tuesday, April 23.