TRIBUTES have been paid at the funeral of Malton’s four-times town mayor Jason Fitzgerald-Smith.

St Mary’s Priory, in Old Malton, was packed on Friday for the service, when Mr Fitzgerald-Smith, who was Malton’s deputy mayor, was described as the town’s “champion”.

Town clerk Mike Skehan, in a moving tribute, said: “He had a presence within the town which was unequalled.

“He literally walked the town, opened doors and spoke to anyone and everyone. He had an easy and engaging manner, but worked hard at gauging opinion.”

Mr Fitzgerald-Smith had been a member of Malton Town Council for 11 years and became chairman of the Malton and Norton Town Centre Management Company, which promoted the interests of businesses in the two towns, said Mr Skehan.

He had also been a leader of the Malton and Norton Area Partnership and Ryedale Cameras in Action.

His many other roles included being a member of North Yorkshire Police Authority and being chairman of the Malton and Norton District branch of the Conservative Association.

Tributes to his military career in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and The Royal Artillery were given by Jonathan Bates, while the address was given by the Rev Peter Robinson, who described him as “a gifted man with a zest for life and who put his gifts to the service of the community”.

Lessons were read by his son, Willoughby and Major Michael Blunt. Long-standing friend Canon John Manchester also took part in the service.