TRIBUTES have been pouring in for Jack Birch, a former Lord Mayor of York, who has died aged 92, and who gave more than 30 years' service on the old York City Council.

Mr Birch, of Fulford, was born and raised in York, and at 16 was taken on as an apprentice at William Birch and Sons building company.

He later became a company director, and continued to pop into the office to keep an eye on things until two weeks before his death.

A Conservative councillor in the Micklegate ward, he was also a member of North Yorkshire County Council for 20 years.

Mr Birch also served as a magistrate until retiring at the age of 70.

In addition he served as a member of York Health Authority, chairman of governors of Dringhouses Infant and Junior School and Danesmead School, governor of York College of Arts and Technology, chairman of York 41 Club, president of York Rotary Club, chairman of the Yorkshire section of the Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors, and chairman of the Building Advisory Committee of the Central College of Further Education.

He was elected Lord Mayor in 1975, and retired from the city council after 31 years in 1987. He retired from the county council in 1993.

In 1992 he was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday honours list for his services to York. Receiving the award, he called it "a very considerable honour".

Mr Birch married Eileen in 1942. They celebrated their diamond wedding last year.

He was actively involved with York Against Cancer, York Children's Trust and the Merchant Adventurers.

His many interests included rowing and horse riding.

His son, Chris, said: "His dedication was an inspiration to everyone."

Former York council leader Rod Hills said: "The thing that comes to mind about Jack is that he cared. He cared about his family, he cared about the city and the people of the city. Jack was a very rich man, but he gave a lot of it away in charitable donations. He did a lot of good work for the city in a quiet way. I didn't always agree with Jack politically, but he was always honest. He fought for what he believed was right."

Ken Beavan, a former Tory councillor, said: "Jack had an extraordinary dedication to the city and led a personal crusade against vandalism. Even in his advanced years he would make time to recover the council's life-belts from the River Foss."

Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Steve Galloway said: "Jack was the kind of personality who, although quiet in manner, dominated parts of the city for more than 50 years. The city has lost one of its last genuine gentlemen."

Mr Birch passed away in St Leonard's Hospice in the early hours of yesterday.

He leaves his widow, son Chris, daughters Kathy, Helen, Val and Jenny, 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Updated: 10:47 Wednesday, April 16, 2003