COLLEAGUES from both sides of the political spectrum have joined family members in paying tribute to former Mayor of Exeter Margaret Midgley.
Mrs Midgley, who has died aged 81, represented Wonford and Priory on Exeter City Council between 1991 and 2006. She was mayor of the city in 1995/96 before being appointed to the position of Honorary Alderman in 2008.
Labour county councillor for Heavitree and Whipton Barton Olwen Foggin described Mrs Midgley as "an inspiring woman", adding: "Margaret did a lot for Exeter when she was in charge of community services under the leadership of Chester Long. Margaret spent her time as a councillor in Wonford empowering everyone – she was a great advocate for the people."
Councillor Yolonda Henson, leader of the Conservative group on Exeter City Council, acknowledged their political differences but said: "She was a very good ward councillor and one would hope she will be remembered for that."
Mrs Midgley is survived by her children Adrian, Clare and Elissa, grandchildren Louisa and Sarah, and great-grandchildren Jessica and Zac.
In a statement, her family said: "Her involvement in working for the city was passionate, and based on the belief that through politics she could make a positive difference to the lives of people in Exeter. Achieving positive change gave her the greatest satisfaction in her political life. She was a motivator and a doer, with a sharp intellect and a wonderful sense of humour.
"As well as politics she took pleasure and had a deep and abiding interest in many things, including theatre, literature, art, history, music, cinema and cats.
"She died after a long period of ill health, but with her spirit and enthusiasm undimmed, and still able to enjoy many of the things she loved. She was bright, engaged, and full of ideas, and still taking delight in visits from friends and family even in her last week."
Mrs Midgley died on Monday August 5, with her family around her.
During her time on the council, she was involved in Exeter's success in the Britain in Bloom contest and helped to promote the fledgling Turntable scheme, now a flourishing organisation which recycles furniture for the benefit of people on low incomes.
Among many community events Mrs Midgley helped to organise was a millennium exhibition on the history of Wonford.
"This was a very successful event," said Councillor Foggin. "It was organised after they were let down on arrangements for holding a millennium community dance.
"Margaret would always support you to turn a negative into a positive."
The current Lord Mayor, Councillor Rachel Lyons, will attend Mrs Midgley's funeral at Exeter & Devon Crematorium in Topsham Road at 3.30pm on Wednesday, August 21, to be followed by a wake at the Buckerell Lodge. Flowers are welcome.