Tributes have been paid to a Labour councillor who has died following a six month battle with cancer.

Gam Gurung, a former Gurkha soldier, grew up in the Himalayas and joined the army at the age of 19 and served for 17 years.

The 53-year-old was elected as councillor for Colliers Wood in 2010 and was the first Gurkha member of the council in its history.

The much loved member of the community has championed the rights of Gurkhas in the UK and in 2008 founded the South London Nepalese Gurkha Association (SLNGA).

Rag Prasad Pujra, chairman of the SLNGA, said: "He was a very generous man and very well known in the community.

"He would always get involved and help with any issues affecting Gurkhas.

"We are all very sad to hear the tragic news."

Mr Gurung, who leaves behind a wife and four children, was also a teacher and governor at Carshalton College where he taught bricklaying and was this year shortlisted in the teacher of the year category at the Merton Civic Awards.

Oonagh Moulton, leader of the Merton Conservatives, said he would be remembered with "great affection".

She said: "Gam was someone who was rightly proud of his heritage and was always identifiable by his Gurkha Terai Hat at special events.

"He also ensured that in 2011 the then Mayor of Merton, Councillor Gilli Lewis-Lavender, had the privilege of welcoming the Nepalese Ambassador to the Court of St James, His Excellency Ambassador Dr Suresh C. Chalise, to our borough.

"This was a great honour for Merton and was as a direct consequence of Gam’s efforts."

Councillor Stephen Alambritis, leader of the council, said: "Being one of the first councillors from a Nepalese community he was quite well regarded and whilst he had cancer he still managed to go to Nepal and open a school which had been named in his honour.

"During his three years as councillor for Colliers Wood he made many friends in the community and was very good at engaging with the police.

"He arranged for the Nepalese High Commissioner to come over to meet his community and the chamber was packed with more than 100 Nepalese people.

"He will be very sadly missed."

Coun Alambritis has said tributes will be paid to Mr Gurung during the council’s Armed Forces Day service on Saturday.

His funeral will be held on Thursday, July 4, at the Garth Road crematorium.