Tributes paid to popular hospital campaigner and former Hartlepool councillor Keith Fisher
A well-known hospital campaigner and former Hartlepool ward councillor has sadly died following heart surgery.
Keith Fisher died at around 9pm on Tuesday at James Cook University Hospital as a result of complications following open heart surgery last Friday.
The dad-of-one, 76, had been instrumental in the Save Our Hospital Group as its chairman, which campaigned to keep emergency services open at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
A passionate campaigner, Keith told the Mail back in 2011 that he would "never stop fighting for our hospital.”
He leaves behind his son Mike Fisher, 45, granddaughter Rachael, 20, and daughter-in-law Melanie Fisher, who are from Hartlepool.
Paying tribute to his dad, Mike said: "He always taught me to never give in and keep fighting until the end.
"One thing he was very proud of was that he was a qualified engineer.
"He was a great mechanic, role model and best mate.
"He had a good sense of humour and would always say, 'don't eat your greens.'
"I am very proud of the work he did with the hospital campaign."
Born in Hetton on December 4, 1942, Keith was spent the majority of his working life in Hartlepool, moving to the town in 1978.
He married his late wife Elaine - a fellow hospital campaigner - on her 21st birthday at on May 25, 1966 at St Andrew's Church in Blackhall.
Sadly, Elaine died suddenly back in 2014, and it was then that Mr Fisher's family said he seemed to have lost his fight for the campaign.
Mr Fisher was a dedicated magistrate in Hartlepool for 20 years, retiring at the compulsory age of 70.
He was the chair of the bench of magistrates training and a magistrate representative for Cleveland Police Authority.
He was the president of the Hartlepool Labour Party, spending 10 years with the party before leaving to become an Independent ward councillor for Hart.
He was elected in the May 2012 elections and served in that capacity until the May 2014 elections, when he was defeated.
He was Chair of the Council’s Audit & Governance Committee 2013-14, a member of the Council’s Planning Committee 2012-13 and 2013-14, a member of the Council’s Regeneration Services Committee 2013-14.
He was on the Adult Services Committee 2013-14 and a member of the Council’s North & Coastal Neighbourhood Forum 2012-13 and 2013-14.
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His son Mike said his dad fell out of love with the new Labour Party, leading him to become an Independent councillor.
Mike remembered fondly his dad's love of fast cars and motorbikes, saying that he owned a number of bikes himself which he enjoyed riding right up until his final days.
He said: "He has been a motorcyclist all of his life and always told me how at the age of 16 he would got to school on his bike.
"That love still lives on because he taught me to ride a bike at the age of six.
"Biking was something that we used to do together and I will continue to ride them.
"His prized possessions were his motorbikes and he was riding some of them this year.
"It's incredible that a 76-year-old man of his size was still riding one of the best sports bikes ever - a Yamaha R1."
PC Mike has starred in episodes of hit TV show Police Interceptors, something he said his dad was very proud of.
He added: "Dad was incredibly proud of that and I am very proud of what he has done."
Friend and fellow hospital campaigner Derrick Rowbotham said his friend would be greatly missed.
The 70-year-old from Park Road, who founded the Town of Hartlepool Facebook group, said: "He will be very sadly missed.
"He died following open heart surgery which he had last week and his condition deteriorated since then.
"I have known him for ten years after meeting him through the Save Our Hospital campaign.
"He was an ex-magistrate and was always a very fair and genuine person.
"He was involved in the hospital campaign for a long time, around 12 to 14 years.
"I will miss him , he was a bundle of knowledge."
Derrick added: "He was a ward councillor and was in the Labour party before he became Independent .
"I just miss him. He will be a great loss to the town.
"He had a brilliant mind and was very well respected."