TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Accrington councillor, who died while saying afternoon prayers at his mosque.

Sardar Ali, 86, is thought to have suffered a heart attack while at the Raza Jamia Mosque, in Grimshaw Street, on Sunday afternoon.

Around 2,500 people said their final farewells to the ‘father figure’ of the Asian community during a funeral service at the mosque on Monday, while hundreds also attended his burial at Accrington Cemetery, in Burnley Road, on Tuesday.

Tributes were led by Hyndburn mayor Munsif Dad, who spoke of the work and effort Mr Ali put back into the community.

Coun Dad said: “He was there when people needed him and he was involved in many community projects on a voluntary basis. He will be remembered for the good things he contributed in the Muslim community.

“Mr Ali was a father figure to the Asian community, living in Hyndburn for more than 50 years. His sudden death is a loss to us all, and we pray for him and his family.”

Mr Ali served on the council from 2002 to 2004, representing the Central ward and sat on several committees, including the Accrington Area Council, and the planning and employment committees.

He was the chairman of the judicial committee and vice-chairman of the development services committee from 2002 to 2003, and was the shadow cabinet advisor for community cohesion from 2003 to 2004.

He was also the chair of the Raza Jamia Mosque for decades.