SLIDESHOW: Tributes paid to community champion Joan

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A warrior, a fighter, a free spirit but above all a woman who cared about Blackpool and people who lived there.

That was how former mayor Coun Joan Greenhalgh was described to a packed church as her family and civic leaders gathered to pay their respects.

The funeral of former Mayor of Blackpool Joan Greenhalgh at St Paul's Church in Marton. Joan's family follow the coffin into church.

The funeral of former Mayor of Blackpool Joan Greenhalgh at St Paul's Church in Marton. Joan's family follow the coffin into church.

Coun Greenhalgh’s requiem mass took place at the Parish Church of Marton, St Paul’s, where current mayor Coun Val Haynes, Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden and Rev Christopher Wren spoke of her great personal qualities and her service to the town.

Members of Blackpool Council, including the leader, Coun Simon Blackburn and chief executive Neil Jack, were present along with many other community leaders and members of the service association standard bearers.

Coun Haynes spoke of how determined Joan could be when she truly believed in a issue and how she would fight with determination to help her constituents.

She said: “Joan was a warrior, she was not the delicate little lady that some people thought she would be.

“If she felt her residents needed something, she would fight to the bitter end to get it for them.

“She believed so much in Blackpool and the people of Blackpool and she worked tirelessly to help them.”

She told how even after Joan had her severe stroke in 2010, she was determined to serve as mayor and battled bravely back to carry out her duties in 2011/12. She added: “She was a wonderful lady. If there were two words that could sum Joan up, they would be – she cared.”

Gordon Marsden said it had been a privilege to have known her and worked with her for a quarter of a century. He said: “She had time for her people, she knew their families, she knew their family history, their dogs and their cats.

“She loved the people of Mereside and all across her Clifton Ward.”

He praised her for her community spirit, her political convictions, her support of causes such as the Marton Little Windmill, Cherry Tree Allotments, the Co-operative Movement and Mereside Labour Club.

He also mentioned her love of dancing and how she had been a professional dancer in her youth, and the service reflected this with the hymn Lord of the Dance and the music at the end of the service – the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

Rev Wren said: “Her memory in this community will not fade for a very long time but will carry on in the hearts and lives of people for years to come.

“A woman of great determination who helped many.” Joan, who lived at the Tudor Lodge Nursing Home on Clifton Drive, suffered a second stroke and died in Blackpool Victoria Hospital on May 29, aged 82. The requiem mass was followed by committal at Carleton Crematorium.