Gay Wharton was fatally injured after being hit by a Audi (Image: MEN MEDIA)
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Emotional tributes have been paid to a former mayoress who was killed in a suspected hit-and-run crash while on the way to the shops.
Gay Wharton, 58, former mayoress of Bolton, was struck by a black Audi as she crossed Chorley New Road, Bolton at roughly 12pm on Friday.
Mrs Wharton, who was walking into town to run some errands, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the car, which was travelling north-easterly, failed to stop, police said.
A 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
The grandmother was well known in Bolton for her charity work, especially with the women’s refuge Fortalice.
Mrs Wharton – who worked at Russell and Russell solicitors – was mayoress alongside Coun Martin Donaghy back in 2014.
Mr Donaghy led tributes to the mayoress, who also worked at Sainsbury's.
Tributes have been paid to 'lovely' Mrs Wharton
(Image: Bolton News / SWNS)
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He said: “Gay was one of our in-store trainers at Sainsbury’s and she was quite reticent about the idea of being a mayoress.
“But I thought, no, she is going to be one of my mayoresses, and she really blossomed in the role.
“And she continued with that work after her year as mayoress, particularly as part of Fortalice, because she believed in what they stood for.
“She was such a caring and concerned person.
"I’m obviously devastated and my thoughts go out to her husband to Steve and her family.”
Current mayor of Bolton, Councillor Linda Thomas, said she was "devastated" at the death of Mrs Wharton.
She added: "Gay was a lovely friend to so many of us. She touched so many lives and we all loved her.
"She was an exemplary Mayoress and continued her good work being a great ambassador and fundraiser for Fortalice.
"Gay made a massive contribution to the life of this town she will be sorely missed.
"Our hearts go out to her family who we are all thinking about.”
Mrs Wharton was hit by a black Audi on Chorley New Road, Bolton
(Image: MEN MEDIA)
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Described as a family woman who loved spending time with her granddaughter, Mrs Wharton was also an avid baker.
She was well known for her cupcakes which she would share around the town.
Gill Smallwood, chief executive of Fortalice, met Mrs Wharton when she was mayoress and said the pair "got on instantly" and became friends.
She said Mrs Wharton was “thrilled” to be asked to become a patron and had worked hard for victims of domestic abuse ever since.
Gill said: “She was always at the forefront of fundraising for us.
"She organised the Mayor’s Christmas fair for us and would always come to events with me.
“She was always out collecting for us, fundraising and talking about us. She was a wonderful patron with a huge heart.
"She was one of the kindest people she had ever met. She will be so missed, not only as a patron but as a very special friend to me.”
A cordon was in place on Chorley New Road for several hours after the collision on Friday.
Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor David Greenhalgh, said: “Gay was one of Cllr Donaghy’s mayoresses and became across all parties a friend to many of us, involved in numerous charities and fundraising wherever she could.
“Always with a smile on her face, always supportive, always committed to improving the lot of others.
“Our thoughts and love from us all at the council go to her family at this tragic news.”
A 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and remains in police custody for questioning.
Sergeant Andrew Page, from Greater Manchester Police's serious collision investigation unit, said: "A woman has sadly lost her life following this incident and our thoughts remain with her family and loved ones as they come to terms with this awful news.
"This collision happened in broad daylight so we want to appeal to anyone who may have been in the area at the time to come forward and assist police with our inquiries.
"We're particularly keen to speak to anyone who witnessed the collision or may have dash-cam footage of the vehicle in question. Please come forward and speak to police."
Anyone with information is urged to contact police on 0161 856 4741 quoting incident number 1019 of 13/11/2020.
Alternatively, details can be passed on anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.