TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular local artist and tutor following his death aged 76.

Family, friends and pupils have fondly remembered John Hassall, from Ramsbottom, who died of heart failure in hospital last Wednesday, his family has confirmed.

Not only did Mr Hassall have his own own studio in Bolton Road but he was also artist in residence at Elton High School, a specialist arts college. He also staged regular classes locally.

He leaves wife Christine, daughters Nicola, Pippa and Sally and sister Vicky, sons-in-law Andrew and Paul and grandchildren Luka, Taylor, Jake and Violet.

His funeral, which will be for close family and friends only due to current restrictions, will take place on Thursday.

In a statement, his family said he was "loved by too many to name and will be greatly missed".

The family tribute added: "Most famous locally for painting Holcombe Hill in the Autumn, John completed thousands of paintings and commissions in his lifetime and taught hundreds of pupils.

"He was generous to a fault and always had time for people, refusing to retire he worked hard to the end, and his untimely death has stunned and devastated us all.

"He was the backbone of our family and even as grown adults he would help us out, give us advice and be ready with a bad joke every week at our family tea.

"His heart was full, sincere and generous but sadly it could no longer support him.

"He left an imprint on everyone he met and will be remembered with love and fondness by so many. The world has lost a special soul and heaven has gained one of the best."

The family has announced that the cortege will be passing Clark Craft in Ramsbottom, at 3pm, on the day of his funeral.

A memorial book will be available outside the shop between 2pm and 4pm.

One friend, Angela Wilson, in a post on a Facebook tribute page, said: "John brought such joy into our lives with his wonderful painting, eternal patience and bad jokes we shall miss him so very very very much."

Another, Maggie Eady, added: " He was just a delightful man and human being. I loved my Wednesday night class . I said to everyone it was the best hours of my week."