THE man who helped restore a forgotten and derelict tower on York's City Walls and turn it into a community hub has died suddenly, aged 59.

Tributes have poured in for Simon Perry, who died just ten days after his mother's funeral.

The Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Janet Looker, said he had dedicated his energy and skills to community activity, and 'particularly the amazing job of bringing the Red Tower, a forgotten corner of the City Walls, back into use.'

She said that as the work of bringing the tower - situated near Navigation Road - back into physical repair was completed, he promoted the use of the building as a community resource - significantly a weekly community drop in where a 'Pay as you Feel' cafe opened, dispensing hot soup and providing food sourced from local supermarkets.

"There was advice available from council staff, councillors and other voluntary agencies," she said. "It was truly a delightful community hub. Simon's quiet leadership sourced grant funding, and kept the focus on creating not just a beautifully restored heritage building, but a space that locals and other community groups could use and enjoy."

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said Simon's Labour politics were 'lived out in his service to his community,' adding:"He embraced everything that could make a difference to our community from bringing the Red Tower back to life to ensuring that everyone was fed and supported.

"He was always there for others, always helping, and always up for a good discussion too. I will miss Simon’s comradeship and generous spirit.”

Former York MP Sir Hugh Bayley said he had known Simon for 30 years. "He was successful in business and a wonderful community activist in Walmgate," he said. "I used to walk with him, and talk, and like all his friends I'll miss his company."

Guildhall Cllr Fiona Fitzpatrick said Simon had been 'totally committed to making the world a fairer place and for providing for those less fortunate.'

She said: "This was particularly highlighted by his enthusiasm for the Red Tower to be part of a project by the 'Food Poverty Alliance' to provide meals in school holidays for children who were on Free School Meals in term time.

"This grew into the 'Pay as You Feel Cafe' every Monday, a hugely successful weekly event that provides food and a meeting place for the whole community and beyond. Simon was passionate about the Walmgate community to which he and I both belonged."

Walmgate Community Association said Simon had led a campaign to establish the association, chaired it for two years, establishing its constitution, applying for funding, supporting other officers in their new roles and acting as a spokesperson for local residents.

"It is no exaggeration to say that without Simon’s hard work and determination, our association would not exist," it said.

The Red Tower CIC, a not-for-profit group which took the tower on a 30-year-lease from City of York Council, said; "His quiet, unassuming and caring nature came to the fore when taking the Tower beyond the internal upgrade to become a caring and compassionate provider of support for the local community.

"His collection of Fareshare food donations and organisation of many volunteers and social advisors ensured not only could those in need of food, could also talk to an advisor on a wide range of issue affecting their lives.

"The part he played in supporting the local community, addressed the issues of reducing food poverty and also reducing food waste. He ensured the Red Tower not only achieved it original vision for the future, but also created a strategy for the long-term sustainability of this unique community facility. He will be sadly missed by not only his colleagues, but also the many residents and families whose lives he touched in so many ways."