Tributes have poured in for former Skipton mayor and district and county councillor Polly English who died on Good Friday.
Coun English, who six years ago battled breast cancer, was diagnosed with secondary cancer in February, had undergone treatment, but died in hospital following complications. She was 71.
Her husband and fellow councillor, Paul English, said: “I will miss my wife and best friend so much, I can’t even begin to imagine. She was my beautiful, clever and funny soul mate, my inspiration and partner in crime.”
The couple, who had recently returned from a holiday in The Gambia, were frequent travellers abroad. They particularly liked Turkey and Greece, and for her 65th birthday, Polly had the Turkish flag tattooed on her thigh.
Coun English – who had two grown up sons – was a Liberal Democrat member of North Yorkshire County Council, Craven District Council and Skipton Town Council.
She had served on various other organisations, including the North Yorkshire Police Authority, Craven Domestic Violence Service and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. She was secretary of Skipton Liberal Democrats.
She was passionate about mental health issues and served as a non-executive director on Bradford District Care Trust and as a Mental Health Act manager for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
She also ran a mobile dog grooming business, Hair of the Dog, had shown her Kerry Blue Terriers at Crufts and was an accredited judge for the breed.
Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton, leader of Craven District Council, said Polly had been a feisty member of the council who outside the debating chamber had always been charming and friendly.
“The last time I saw her at a meeting, she asked about the bus station lavatories. She was doing her role to hold us to account and was as feisty as ever,” he said.
Dave Parker, chief officer of Skipton Town Council said: “Polly was exactly what a councillor should be and worked tirelessly in support of the people of Skipton. She shared our vision and I know all our councillors and staff will miss her a lot, she will leave a huge gap.”
Chairman of North Yorkshire County Council, Coun Bernard Bateman, said: “I had known Polly for 15 or 20 years, and held her in the greatest esteem.
“We have lost a doughty and passionate advocate. She will be very much missed by all of those who knew.”
Councillor Robert Heseltine said: “As a colleague, I am greatly saddened by the sudden loss of a much respected member. Without doubt, she was a powerful orator who held her political viewpoints with deep sincerity.”
Coun Mark Wheeler said Polly had been a great help when he had stood for various elections. “Although she could be a right old battle axe, she was our battle axe and will be sorely missed as a fearsome campaigner. Skipton is a poorer place for her passing.”
A funeral will take place at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton, next Friday, May 2, at 2pm, when readings are due to be made by MP Julian Smith and MEP Edward McMillan-Scott. It will be followed by a cremation service at Waltonwrays.
Her many friends and colleagues are expected to celebrate her life afterwards at the town’s Rendezvous Hotel.