A former council leader and Mayor has died after a long battle with cancer.

David Edwards had stood down last year due to ilness after 35 years as a councillor, including two separate spells as Kingston Council leader.

He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, but still continued serving for five more years as he was treated.

Upon his resignation in March 2012, Mr Edwards said: "If you had asked me if I would be resigning a few years ago, I would have said no, I will be a councillor right up to my civic funeral.

"But it’s a question of doing the job properly and what my health allows me to do."

This week Mr Edwards' niece Loraine Edwards, 45, paid tribute to her uncle.

She said: "I think a lot of people knew him as David the councillor or David the mayor, but I always saw him as my uncle.

"Because he was never married and never had kids, I think he looked at my brother and myself as his kids.

"He loved to travel. He'd been all over the world, and he walways brought gifts back for his nieces and nephews."

Ms Edwards, a mother of five, said her uncle's life-long thirst for knowledge also came in handy when she, and then her children, needed help with their homework.

"He loved helping my brother and myself, and as we've got older and had children he always helped his great nieces and nephews with their homework.

"We always used to get very good marks when David helped us."

Friends and colleagues from the Conservative party, as well as those on the other side of the political divide, tweeted their tributes last night.

Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith tweeted on Sunday evening: "Very sad to hear that former Kingston Conservative, Cllr David Edwards, has passed away today."

Ian George, another former Tory councillor, tweeted: "True Tory, wicked sense of humour + a genuinely nice man."

Former Tory council leader Kevin Davis tweeted: "May David Edwards rest in peace and rise in glory."

And the Kingston Labour party tweeted: "Our thoughts are with his friends and family."

Mr Edwards lived in New Malden all his life but represented Norbiton Park Ward when he was first elected in 1974, having been inspired by Ted Heath's speech at a Tory conference in 1970 and immediately contacting the local wing of the party.

The former Malden Manor and Beverley School pupil took a break in 1986 for world travel promoting Britain as a tourist destination, before coming back and winning a seat in 1989 in Coombe Hill.

He said a highlight of his time with the council came when he was mayor, a ceremonial position, and showed the Queen around the town centre in 1992.

When he stood down in March 2012, former Labour councillor Steve Mama said: "We fought against each other in the past and exchanged harsh words in the council chamber but remained the best of friends."

Mr Edwards' funeral will be held on Friday, July 19, at Putney Vale crematorium at 3.40pm.

Donations to the Princess Alice Hospice can be made through Frederick W Payne funeral directors in Surbiton. Call 020 8399 2060.

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