Tributes have poured in following the death of leading local politician Bob Baker, a former chairman of Hambleton District Council and member of North Yorkshire County Council.

Mr Baker, 67, a farmer and land agent, from Thornton le Beans, near Northallerton, died suddenly in hospital with his family around him on Tuesday, September 19. It is understood he was taken ill after returning from a family holiday in Italy.

Mr Baker was originally elected to Hambleton District Council in May 1999 as Conservative member for the Bagby and Thorntons ward, later serving as chairman of the authority. He was also elected as a councillor on North Yorkshire County Council.

The Northern Farmer: Tributes have poured in for well known local politician Bob Baker

His wife Alyson is a North Yorkshire councillor for the Hillside and Raskelf ward.

Former leader of Hambleton District Council Mark Robson said he had met Mr Baker when they both stood for election in May 1999 for Hambleton council. He said: "Bob and I were both elected to Hambleton at that election, with Bob becoming chairman of the authority at the same time as I became Conservative leader in May 2013. He was also county councillor for Sowerby and Topcliffe.

“This is absolutely devastating news, it is terrible for us, his friends and colleagues and for the family, I just can’t believe it.

“Bob was a wonderful man, he was always there, he always leant an ear to what was going on and was a great support for the area. He worked really hard for the residents he represented and was dedicated to helping people. His death is a great loss and a great sadness.”

Leader of North Yorkshire Council, Cllr Carl Les said: “Bob was a longstanding district and county councillor. As a former farmer himself, and working in the countryside, his contributions to discussion and debate on rural affairs was extremely invaluable.

"He was also one of life’s really nice people and it was a privilege for all of us to be his friends. He will be sadly missed and our thoughts and condolences are with his family.”

He leaves his wife Alyson, and children Catherine, Jonny and David. 

On Saturday, September 23 at Northallerton Rugby Club the family have sponsored the game in memory of Bob, who had close connections with the club. Kick off is at 3pm with a minute's silence at the start.

The Northern Farmer: Bob Baker with Richmond MP Rishi Sunak and Northallerton Rugby Club players in 2016 when it

Club chairman Simon Warren said: “Bob was held in such high regard at the club throughout his time here. From his early playing days, playing in the front row in the first Colts side in the early 70s and then progressing into the seniors. He started a family tradition of playing in the front row with both Jonny and David following in his footsteps.

“Bob has given over half a century to the service of our club as player, club director and committee member. His roles have varied from grass cutter, line painter, and cement mixer, to club chairman. No matter what his role he wore the Northallerton badge with pride and he was committed to helping the club be the best that it could be.

“He was a true gentleman and a great ambassador for the club and rugby in general. I am sure there will be many people who have fond memories of Bob both on and off the field. He will never be forgotten and will always be remembered with the upmost respect.

“We ask that you please keep Bob’s family Alyson, Catherine, Jonny and David in your thoughts and prayers.”