TRIBUTES have been paid to Blackpool councillor Mary Smith who has died, aged 77.
Coun Smith, of Bloomfield ward, had served the town for more than 21 years.
She had been battling a long illness and slipped into a coma at hospital Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Saturday night and died yesterday lunchtime.
Today colleagues and friends paid heartfelt tributes to a woman described as “passionate about Blackpool”.
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “The people of Blackpool have lost an amazingly strong, committed and vibrant character in Mary.
“She was outstanding in the way she stood up for ordinary people, she could be fierce as a tiger fighting for what she believed in. She always went the extra mile and understood Blackpool very well, she radiated warmth and generosity.
“She was a shining example of what a public servant should be and a rock for the local Labour party.”
Coun Smith, who lived on Bryan Road, was passionate about the regeneration of Blackpool and also determined to clean up the resort and ensure it remained family friendly.
She fought for a number of issues relating to the Revoe, Foxhall and Bloomfield areas in which she served. She sat on a number of council committees over the years such as licensing and planning and was heavily involved in the Revoe Area Forum.
She was Mayor of Blackpool in 2008/2009.
Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn said: “We are all very shocked and upset to hear of Mary’s death. She’s been ill for some time but we’ve got used to her always pulling through against all odds.
“Mary was one on her own and had passionate, strident views on a number of subjects.
“She was passionate about Blackpool and a committed defender of the town.
“She was Blackpool born and bred and there will never be another like her.”
Close friend Coun Ivan Taylor added: “Mary was a wonderful person and very much a Blackpool girl.
“She was a real fighter for the things she believed in, it’s a very sad day.”
Coun Graham Cain, who served with Coun Smith in Bloomfield ward, said: “Mary has been inspirational to me and I feel very proud to carry on her legacy. Political allegiances aside, she was very well liked and respected and Blackpool through and through.
“The town has lost a remarkable woman.”
Coun Smith leaves daughter Julia Massey, son Peter Smith and four grandsons.