DESCRIBED as a champion of the underdog, Alderman Reuben George’s funeral was one of the biggest outpourings of grief Swindon had seen for years.

But today the former mayor lies in a decrepit grave which is a far cry from his final farewell in 1936 which saw crowds lining the streets.

The GMB union is now offering to pay for the restoration of his final resting place in Radnor Street Cemetery if a relative comes forward to grant approval.

George was the son of a bootmaker. He became a Socialist and pacifist and helped to set up the Workers’ Educational Association.

He was elected to Swindon Town and Wiltshire County councils and served tirelessly on numerous committees and local societies.

Swindon branch secretary for the GMB union, Andy Newman, said: “He was a major figure in the history of the town.

“When he died there was a massive funeral in Swindon which was reported in the national press.

“He was the only Socialist on Wiltshire Council and he later became Mayor of Swindon.

“He opened Coate Water’s diving board in 1922 and afterwards he stripped down to his underpants and jumped in the water.

“He was quite a character and we would like to restore his grave, but first we need to track down his living relatives to get their permission.”

The union will meet the cost of the restoration work, estimated at a few hundred pounds, and arrange a rededication ceremony.

The grave is overgrown and lacking a headstone, with George’s name barely visible on one of the crumbling stone borders.

Mr Newman said: “The grave is a little bit neglected which is a shame, because it doesn’t reflect what he achieved as a major character in the history of the town.

“However, I’m fairly confident he will have a close relative happy for us to restore it.”

The Labour group is also supporting the restoration effort, as George established the Party’s first branch in the town.

The Adver’s report of George’s funeral read: “It was the greatest public demonstration of spontaneous affection for a public figure that the town of Swindon had seen for very many years.”

In tributes which followed he was described as a champion of the underdog inspired by his own humble beginnings. The Alderman prefix, which has since been abolished, denoted his high status in local government.

Anyone who is related to George or can put the GMB in contact with relatives should contact Mr Newman on 075408 59227.