Readers of the Echo, especially in the Westham area, will have been saddened to learn of the recent death of Andy Hutchings.

A big man, his soft speech, sweet-nature and innate gentleness came as a surprise.

I first met him in the 1980s when we were both Labour councillors on the Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

He was totally devoted to the welfare of his constituents in Westham North, not only going to great lengths to help them but also sending a hand-written reply to everyone who had consulted him --no small achievement as he was (probably) dyslexic.

He was later proud to be made an Honorary Alderman of the Borough.

For many years Andy worked in the stores in the Portland naval and helicopter base which employed some 6500 workers and closed in 1999.

He was a member of the Civil Service Union and later the GMB, and was involved in negotiating redundancy policy with the employers during the run-down period. I am told that he was one of those who persuaded the authorities to agree that workers who were fortunate enough to obtain other jobs should be allowed to depart while retaining their redundancy payments.

What really marked Andy Hutchings in his retirement was the extraordinary range of his charities, interests and enthusiasms.

He raised money for all kinds of organisations and worked tirelessly, often as an elected officer, to support his union, the local ‘Over 60’s’ Club’, ‘Weymouth Disabled Club’ and ‘Friends of Upwey Station’. He served as a Governor of Dorset County Hospital.

He loved old Weymouth and retained a vast collection of local post-cards, some of which were published in the two books of local history he produced with Geoff Pritchard.

A member of the Society of Dorset Men, he worked enthusiastically to re-establish the rail link to Swanage. He would hold what was practically open house for friends at his beach-hut each year, to celebrate the town carnival.

He will long be remembered at St Paul’s Church in Westham where he was a regular worshipper.

Andy was a Weymouth character, a man for all seasons.

I understand that, as a tribute to him, on the day of his funeral (not known as I write) the Dorset flag is to fly at half-mast over County Hall. A small signal but well deserved.

Dr. Alan Chedzoy, Weymouth