TRIBUTES have poured in for popular Stourbridge businessman and philanthropist Geoff Hill whose charity fundraising gave a boost to thousands of good causes across the borough.

The benevolent boss of Geoff Hill Ltd, at Amblecote, who had given away more than £500,000 to charities, worthy causes and deserving individuals over the last two decades through his charitable trust, died at his Lawnswood home last Thursday (November 8) after a period of ill health. He was 91.

His son Nigel said the family had received tremendous support from the community in the wake of the sad news and he added: "Everything Dad did for the community is now being reflected back to us."

He described his dad, a former champion cyclist, as "a visionary man" and said: "He empowered people to do good - just by being himself. He was a real gentleman."

Brierley Hill-born Geoff, who began collecting for charity after his eldest daughter was born with special needs, was a big supporter of Mary Stevens Hospice and was awarded the MBE in 2004 for his fundraising for the charity. He was also a long-time supporter of Age Concern Stourbridge and Halesowen.

Stourbridge MP Margot James said: "Geoff was a successful businessman who put people before profit and served the wider community first and foremost. He worked tirelessly to raise money for charitable causes and gave freely of his time and commercial expertise.

"I was always aware of how much he did for Mary Stevens Hospice and our local Age Concern. Geoff will be sorely missed by Sue and those closest to him as well as the many, many people whose lives he touched so kindly and positively; I was lucky to be among them."

Norton meningitis survivor Robert Parsons, who lost his limbs and part of his nose when he was struck down with the deadly disease as a teenager, also counts himself lucky to have known Geoff.

He said he was "so sad" to hear the news of his passing, adding: "Although we knew he hadn't been well for a while it still came as a shock because he'd had a lot of health problems before but always pulled through.

"From everything he told me and what I've heard, his life was filled with love and kindness. I don't think he even realised how many people he helped over the years.

"We used to joke that he'd make a good Santa Claus, only looking back now he was like Santa all year round with all the good work he did.

"He certainly helped me a great deal with my recovery from meningitis.

"Thinking back 18 years, there were some very hard times back then but Geoff being the person he was thought up a way he could help.

"The funds he raised are continuing to help me to this day - recently helping me buy my first home. So his legacy will live on and I will certainly never forget his friendship."

The Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Alan Taylor, also paid tribute to Geoff, describing him as “an extremely well-known and well-liked character in our community” and he added: “He will be sadly missed by everyone and our thoughts are with his loved ones at this sad time."

In 2009 Geoff won a public vote to be awarded the first Mayor’s Award at Dudley Council’s annual civic awards for his charity fundraising and Councillor Judy Foster, deputy leader of the council, said: "His generosity and enthusiasm to help people is an inspiration to us all and he will be sadly missed.”

Geoff leaves a wife of 40 years, Sue; three children – Louise, Teresa and Nigel, five grandchildren, plus great grandchildren, step-son Richard and three step-grandchildren, and a nephew Mark, and brother Rob.

His funeral will be held at Holy Trinity Church in Wordsley on Tuesday November 20 at 11am.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Geoff Hill Charitable Trust via funeral directors Farmer & Son, Wordsley High Street, or via Geoff Hill Ltd in Amblecote High Street.