Page last updated at 18:53 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 19:53 UK

Footballer turned peer dies at 71

Lord Burlison
Lord Burlison was made a life peer in 1997

A Labour peer who began his career as a professional footballer and went on to become a union leader, has died.

Lord Burlison, who died on Tuesday, was deputy general secretary of the GMB union and a treasurer of the Labour Party. He was made a life peer in 1997.

A panel beater by trade, he played football for Hartlepool United and Lincoln City in the 1950s and 1960s.

He then went on to become an active union member before serving as regional secretary for many years.

A GMB spokesman said: "Tom Burlison was a long-standing and very loyal GMB official who always had the union's interests at heart."

The TUC union also paid tribute. General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of Tom Burlison's death.

"He was a sturdy, down to earth trade unionist, deeply rooted in the North East working class communities from which he sprang.

"As well as playing a major industrial role in his union, his canny political skills provided great service to the Labour Party.

"He will be very much missed and our thoughts are with his family."

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