SETTLE campaigner and local champion, Althea Shevill, has died at the age of 78.

Althea suffered a devastating stroke in 2009 and, confined to her motorised wheelchair, became a local champion for disability rights and access.

Before her illness Althea was chair of Churches Together in Settle and campaigned on ‘green’ issues before they were topical. She served on Settle’s twinning committee which created links with Banyuls-sur-Mer in France and was a ‘friend’ of the town’s Victoria Hall, Airedale Hospital NHS Trust and the Settle to Carlisle railway.

In the churches Althea helped to run the summer holiday club and was active in the Mothers’ Union.

Confined to her wheelchair Althea would arrive at Messy Church dressed as a Friesian cow with inflated pink marigold gloves for udders, or as a bishop with mitre and chasuble.

Althea, née McClean, was the daughter of a Baptist minister and was born in Accrington before the McCleans moved to Leeds. Althea was Head Girl of the new Hillside Secondary School in Beeston, trained as a secretary and became one of the youngest ever Girl Guide Commissioners. Althea met her future husband Ian at Beeston Hill Baptist Church where she sang in the choir.

In 1968 the couple moved to Giggleswick and Althea’s love of singing continued through Langcliffe Singers and Settle Voices.

Ian worked for Giggleswick School and Althea was a secretary to Dr Barry Brewster and also typed for Bill Mitchell and local campaigner Bob Leakey. Althea always made it her business to welcome fellow ‘offcumdens’ to the area. Before retiring to Settle she was a teaching assistant at Stainforth and Settle schools where she is remembered for cycling through the snow in her sandals.

To finance her love of travel and shopping Althea was an unlikely Avon lady, Tupperware host and leaflet distributor, assisted by two very reluctant daughters.

Althea did not let her stroke prevent a pilgrimage to Lourdes where she managed to break her hip. Wedged behind a door she was rescued by the French Fire Brigade.

Althea was a familiar figure around Settle, especially on market days, and her legacies include an indomitable spirit and championing of local facilities from swimming pools to railways. She leaves husband Ian, daughters Hilary and Fiona and three grandchildren.