East End community stalwart and former Redbridge mayor Bert Hamilton has died under the wheels of a coach in a freak accident.

Tributes have poured in to the kind-hearted 85-year-old, who did so much for his local community, and spent 26 years representing Wanstead on Redbridge Council.

The accident, which happened on Friday in Clarence Avenue, Gants Hill, involved an Age Concern coach which was dropping off a number of pensioners after a trip.

Mr Hamilton, vice-chairman of Age Concern Redbridge, turned up to meet the coach at around 4pm.

Police said that he was running alongside the coach after a suitcase had been left on board when the accident happened. It is understood he died instantly.

Close friend Joe Browne, who organised the old Redbridge Carnival alongside Mr Hamilton for many years, said the reaction had been one of devastation and horror.

He said: "Nobody can believe what happened to him.

"The work Bert did for the borough was immeasurable, he was a great servant to Redbridge. He was an inspirer, an inspiration to us all. He had a wonderful way with people and was very caring."

Mr Hamilton, of Cranbourne Avenue, Wanstead, was a lifelong Conservative and was elected to the council in 1964, retiring in 1990. He was mayor in 1978 and 79 and deputy mayor three times.

He was a school governor at three Wanstead schools, on the board at the Kenneth More Theatre and involved with Redbridge Arts Council, Wanstead House Community Association and the Ilford branch of the RAF Association. Mr Hamilton served in the RAF during the Second World War.

Nicholas Hurst, a councillor alongside Mr Hamilton for many years, said: "He was a very selfless character, he put other people before himself all the time.

"He was small in stature, big in character and personality."

Age Concern Redbridge chairman Neil Zammett said: "We're all deeply shocked. Bert enjoyed a long association with Age Concern Redbridge from its earliest days as Wanstead, Woodford Old People's Welfare Association to being chairman of Age Concern Redbridge for several terms of office.

"He will be remembered by us all for his unstinting work at the Corner House in Wanstead and for organising our immensely popular holidays."

He leaves Gwen, his wife of 53 years, a son David, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

  • The funeral takes place at 11.30am next Thursday at Christchurch, Wanstead Place. Donations in his memory should be made to the RAF Association and or Guide Dogs for the Blind c/o Funeral Directors Francis & C Walters, 121 High Street, Wanstead.