A family has paid tribute to a town stalwart who was the very first baby to be born at a maternity centre.

Jack Russell, of Douglass Grove, Witham, died aged 98, surrounded by his friends and family.

Mr Russell was a popular figure in the town, having spent several years working as a bus driver in Essex.

He also spent several years working for one of Witham’s best-known firms, Crittall Windows.

Daughter Sue said: “He was well-known in Witham because he was a bus conductor for quite a few years and also worked for Crittalls for a while.

“When he retired, he loved going out on the bus and he would go around all different parts of Essex. He knew a lot of people on there and I think people saw him as a friendly face.

“Dad didn’t retire until he was 83. He used to enjoy the routine of it and he genuinely enjoyed hard work.

“He worked so much he didn’t really have time for hobbies. If he wasn’t at work he was always spending his spare time out in the garden doing something.

“And even when he did retire he was still out in the garden or helping others with theirs.”

Mr Russell was perhaps best known for being the first person ever to be born at the Witham Maternity Centre in Collingwood Road.

The maternity centre has since closed and been turned into bungalows.

Having grown up in Witham, Mr Russell began working as a telegram boy when he was aged just 13.

Among a long list of jobs he had in his 70 years of employment were postman, boilerman, cook and gardener.

He spent several years in the RAF during the Second World War and went on to marry wife Joyce in Cambridge 1955.

The couple had six children - Sue, Pauline, Priscilla, Mary, Jim and David.

Mr Russell also had ten grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Sue added: “Dad was always a quiet person, he very much kept himself to himself. But he was one of those people who never had a bad word to say about anyone.

“He was always there for us and there was one time when he had two jobs just so he could support the family. He would come in from working in the day and then head straight out again to work in the evening.

“He was that kind of person who would do anything for anyone.”