Tributes have been paid to the first Asian mayor of Barking and Dagenham, who has died aged 83.

Inder Singh Jamu, who held the office from 1998-99, passed away surrounded by his family on Sunday, August 29.

His son, Amardeep Jamu, said: "He was always a happy soul. He so believed in his political and religious life.

"If you met him he would crack a joke and make you smile. He lit up a room with his personality.

"He was a pillar of the community. He'll be missed by thousands of people. We are glad we had him for so many years."

The son of a farmer, Inder came to the UK from India in 1966 and lived in Gascoigne Road, where he also went to work at the William Warnes rubber factory.

He was the first person in his family to study at university. He went on to work at Ford for 14 years before taking voluntary redundancy in the 1980s and setting up a driving school.

Inder was on the committee of Barking Gurdwara for at least 40 years and was a driving force behind its rebuilding.

He funded the marble cladding which covers the Sikh temple on the corner of North Street and Northern Relief Road.

"He did it because of his faith," Amardeep said. "He worked hard all his life, that way he could make that one big gesture."

Inder's charitable work included fundraising for disaster relief efforts and mental health causes.

He was also part of a society aimed at fostering good relations between India and Pakistan, as well as being a Labour Party member of more than 40 years, serving on its executive, general management and local government committees.

The first Asian school governor in the borough, in 1980 he persuaded the education authority to teach Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu to Asian children.

He was elected to represent River ward in 1988, serving as its councillor until 2014.

In 1997, he was part of a delegation welcoming Queen Elizabeth II to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.

He explained the protocol to reception committee members who welcomed the Queen and Prince Philip.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Then-councillor Inder Singh Jamu at a party at the Ryland Estate in 2012.Then-councillor Inder Singh Jamu at a party at the Ryland Estate in 2012. (Image: Archant)

During his role as a councillor, Inder sat on committees including one dedicated to furthering race equality.

But Amardeep said he is best known for chairing the town hall's planning committee and being the first Sikh councillor in Barking and Dagenham.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Inder is bestowed with the title Honorary Alderman in 2017.Inder is bestowed with the title Honorary Alderman in 2017. (Image: LBBD)

In 2017, Inder became an Honorary Alderman in recognition of his service to the borough. He was named Freeman in 2009.

"He believed in the essential goodness of people in the borough. He counted everyone as equal," Amardeep added.

Weathering the storms of racial prejudice when he first arrived in the UK, Inder saw the good in people "whoever they were".

As chairman of the Race Equality Council and a councillor, Inder dealt with members of the British National Party (BNP) when they were elected in the 2006 local polls.

He later campaigned with other groups to wipe out the BNP from the electoral map of the borough in the election held in May 2010.

When Sukhwinder Singh was stabbed to death while trying to save a woman from robbers in January 2010 behind Barking Station, Inder served as a bridge between the police, council leader and Sikh community.

To respect the wishes of the Sikh community and promote unity, a resolution to recognise the bravery of Sukhwinder Singh was moved in a council assembly meeting.

The motion garnered cross-party support, including from the BNP, and was passed.

Inder also served as honorary vice-president of Barking and Dagenham District Scouts; was a member of the British Indian Councillor Association; and was a life member of London Labour Mayors and London Mayors Association.

Through this last role, he visited several European countries, Washington DC and Cape Town to promote mayoral links as well as exchange business and cultural knowledge.

"He was one of God's true people," Amardeep said. "We will remember him not just as a father, not just as a politician, but as a man of the world, a man of the people. A man who understood."

The funeral is due to take place at Forest Park Crematorium and Cemetery in Hainault at 1.30pm on September 10.