TRIBUTES have been paid to a scout leader and fire fighter who has sadly died.

Ian William Johnson, 72, from Leigh, died in November after becoming unwell.

Mr Johnson was widely known across Leigh and Southend; he was the leader of the 3rd Chalkwell Bay Sea Scouts for 54 years, beginning in 1964.

He had also worked in the Essex Fire service for 40 years and was stationed all over the county throughout the years, including Hadleigh and Leigh.

The stalwart also worked with St John Ambulance Service and was a governor for West Leigh Junior School for more than 20 years, serving as chairman for six.

In February 2016, he was made an MBE for services to the community.

The sad news was broken by the sea scouts who paid tribute to him on social media. Dozens of flowers and tributes have been left outside the scout’s centre on Victoria Wharf.

The group wrote: “It is with great sadness that we announce the sad passing of Group Scout Leader Ian Johnson MBE.

“The floral tribute that is beginning to form on The Den gate shows how much of an impact he had on people’s lives.

“We salute you, Number One.”

Cheryl Woolf, Executive Head and CEO of West Leigh Junior School, said Mr Johnson was “one in a million”.

She said: “Ian Johnson was a school governor for more than 20 years and a wonderful chair of governors for six years.

“He was absolutely marvellous; he supported the school and was a great friend to us all.

“Everything he did was rooted to the children, he cared so much. He went on the Year Six residential trip every year without fail and he was at every sports day.

“He joined us for every Christmas dinner where he could be found scraping the uneaten food off of people’s plates.

“We will sincerely miss him, the amount of lives he has touched throughout south Essex is incredible. He was one in a million.”

A spokesman for the Southend West Scout District said: “Ian was taken unwell and sadly died. This will come to a great shock to many and he will be sadly missed considering the thousands of young people and adults that he has supported and led over the years. His community spirit and dedication saw him achieve being a Freeman of the Borough of Southend and more recently MBE.”

Former scouts who had been taught by Mr Johnson have paid tribute to him.

Trevor Gaskell said: “Ian helped to shape the lives of thousands of young people through Scouting. He instilled self-reliance, accepting responsibility for your own actions. 3rd C.B. was and is the place for young people to be. Long may it continue remembering this true legend.”

Martyn Hare, station manager at Rayleigh Weir Fire Station, said: “Ian worked for our Service for 40 years, many of which were spent serving the community of Rayleigh as a firefighter.

"His work with young people in various parts of Essex was hugely respected by so many people, including the work he did to benefit hundreds of young adults during his time as a Youth Development Manager.

"The thoughts of everyone at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service are with Ian’s family and friends at this time.”

Darren Bartholomew, St John ambulance district manager in Essex, added: “Ian Johnson was a stalwart volunteer with St John Ambulance in Essex, with nearly 20 years of service.

"Ian took over the leadership of St John in Castle Point a number of year ago and ran a vibrant and busy unit delivering first aid services to his local community and beyond.

"In 2017 he clocked up an impressive 883 hours of voluntary service at events ranging from Southend United Football to The Virgin Money London Marathon, and was a regular at the St John Ambulance First Aid Post at Leigh on Sea.

"Ian was a true gentleman and always a pleasure to work with at events and will be sorely missed by the St John Ambulance family both locally and across Essex. Our thoughts are with his friends, family and colleagues at this sad time."