Touching tributes have been paid to an ‘outstanding’ town councillor.

Cllr Ray Nowak of Portland Town Council has sadly died aged 70.

The Labour Party councillor passed away at his home on Portland yesterday morning.

He had been suffering from long-term health problems.

Portland Town Council has issued a statement confirming his death.

It said: “It is with deep sadness that we report on the loss of our Councillor Ray Nowak who passed away yesterday. Not only will he be missed by the Town Council but also the many other Portland organisations which he belonged to. RIP Ray.”

Cllr Nowak moved to Portland from Suffolk to retire, having served as a county councillor. He was a keen stone carver and became involved in the island’s stone stacking project.

Although he was apparently reluctant to get back into local politics, he quickly became a strong voice for Portland on the former borough council.

A spokesman for South Dorset Labour Party said: “He was an outstanding councillor for Portland Town Council, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and Suffolk County Council. He was also a great and supportive colleague to all those who worked with him both his fellow councillors and Labour Party members. Thank you from us all, RIP Ray.”

Giovanna Lewis, who leads the Keep Portland Hospital and Bring Back the Beds campaigns said: “Ray was a key campaigner to Keep Portland Hospital and Bring Back the Beds. He led the protest last year when the bed closures announcement came through and also led the call for Richard Drax MP to have his public meeting on Portland and not Weymouth Pavilion. He also contributed greatly to the campaign and encouraged me at every step with lots of good advice.”

He was also a strong supporter of devolving the borough council to give the town council greater powers.

Cllr Kate Wheller, who served with Cllr Nowak on the former borough council, said: “He was keen through local government reorganisation to return Portland Town Council back to its former glory.

“I think it’s a huge loss to Portland. I know the people of Portland have taken him into their hearts and I know they will feel his loss and I am sure the Portland Town Council will carry on his legacy.”

Cllr Paul Kimber was a friend and colleague of Cllr Nowak’s on the former borough council.

He said: “Ray was an outstanding councillor for Weymouth and Portland. He supported our community always putting people first.”

He advised me many times not forgetting he had led the council in Suffolk before he came to Portland. He loved Portland and its people. Lastly I want to thank his carer who came down from Birmingham to look after Ray.”

Cllr Sandy West, who sits on Portland Town Council said: “RIP Ray. I hope they have stone stacks in heaven. You will be able to show the angels how to do it. I will miss you my friend. Sleep tight.”

She added: “It’s a huge loss to the community.”

"Ray was a rare politician with a vision for Portland"

Portland Town Council has issued a full statement announcing the passing of Cllr Ray Nowak.

It says: "Ray was a rare politician with a vision of Portland, what it is about, and where it is going. His work on the Memory Stones was a fantastic achievement. He was an intellectual but modest person with a brilliant mind. He had multiple interests and talents. Only last week he was debating with his family about a variety of wildflower. He especially loved the sea pinks along the beach road. There was a cheekiness in his character and he had some wonderful ideas for fundraising such as a “fish & chips and poetry night.

"Ray’s introduction to Portland was when he attended a stone carving workshop run by the Portland Sculpture & Quarry trust. Working with the very material the island is made from made a huge impact on Ray and after he moved to the island he worked closely with the Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust, eventually becoming a Trustee. He held this project close to his heart and as a political figure had a real connection with the social and environmental aspects of this project. He understood the importance of the history of quarrying on the island and about the importance of regeneration.

"During his time on Weymouth and Portland Borough Council Management Committee, Ray was instrumental in the setting up of an independent Portland. Ray always said that the key word in the phrase, “local government,” is local. He saw the future for Portland Town Council in that word.

"His great love was Portland Town Council and during his time as councillor, he had a great deal of respect for local organisations such as the St George’s Centre, Portland Museum, Island of Portland Heritage Trust, and of course the Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust. His team were also successful in the purchase of the new Portland Community Venue and thanked Dorset County Council, as it was then, for their support with the project.

"Ray leaves behind two sons and two daughters. Portland Town Council would like to offer our deepest condolences to them and to the rest of his family. We would also like to thank his carer, Comfort, who worked around the clock to make his last days as comfortable as possible.

"Ray was passionate about serving the community and taught some valuable lessons to members of Portland Town Council about being a councillor. He was an outstanding champion for the people of Portland and always strove to do what was best for the for the island. He will be sorely missed."