A HOUSING officer who worked tirelessly for people in need of help will be remembered this afternoon, Wednesday.

The funeral of Tony Fearnley, from Leigh, a "respected figure in the housing world", will take place at Howe Bridge Crematorium at 1.45pm.

He died from peritonitis at the age of 57.

Tony, who studied at Leigh College on Marshall Street and the University of Liverpool, was a welfare and rights officer during the miners strike for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in the 1980s.

He was involved in several campaigning groups in the town too.

Tony went on to work for Stephenson's Solicitors where he used his skills to help those in need of support, such as homeless people, to get access to suitable housing.

He also worked for housing and homelessness charity Shelter for a couple of years. 

His friend Stephen Cox said: "Tony worked on behalf of thousands of people in Leigh.

"Whether it was in the early days of the TUC Centre and the council for voluntary service and later as an important member of Stephensons Solicitors housing team.

"In all these Tony used his prodigious knowledge of welfare rights combined with a sense of social justice to hep those struggling to cope.

"Even in his own time he would spare a moment to answer questions from worried folk who sought him out for his wise and sage advice.

"Tony was a good friend to myself and many others more so than to himself as he ignored his own health problems but never forgot others who needed his help.

"Cheers old friend and thank you for the love you showed and the help you gave."

Tony's close friend Helen Kay, 59, added: “He was much loved by many and his passing will leave a hole in lots of people’s lives.”

In the latter part of his career, Tony worked as head of housing disrepair for AWH Solicitors in Manchester after being appointed in July 2017.

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Operations director of the company Chris Marsh: "Tony was extremely well known and respected in the housing world and was passionate about protecting the rights of those vulnerable in society.

"He did a lot for the underprivileged and a great advocate of justice for those who needed it most in society.

"He specialised in all aspects of housing law and acted for tenants and homeless people in a number of notable cases.

"He was a character, bubbly and well-liked.

"Tony will be sadly missed by all his friends and colleagues and it will be fitting to raise money in Tony's memory for those that need it most in society.

"All of his colleagues at AWH Solicitors thought it would be fitting to raise money for Shelter, a charity close to his heart."

Tony's family, friends and former colleagues are invited to attend the service.

A crowdfunding appeal has been set up to raise money for Shelter in Tony's memory. To donate to it click here.