A LONG-SERVING councillor who was awarded an MBE for her contribution to local government has died aged 77.

Labour stalwart Olive Brown, from Crook, served as a councillor for 35 years, including ten years as leader of Wear Valley District Council. Never afraid to speak her mind, she was highly respected for her approachability and devotion to the communities she served.

Since her death, on Tuesday, January 9, many serving and former councillors have paid tribute to her.

Former councillor Brian Myers MBE, said: “Olive and I go back many years as we attended Wolsingham Grammar School together and remained firm friends. I was a member of Wear Valley District Council when Olive was leader.

“She could be a formidable lady at times but she was a good and kind person who had the welfare of Wear Valley residents at the forefront of her thoughts. The people of Wear Valley and her fellow politicians held her in high regard, and she will be sorely missed by many.”

Mrs Brown joined the former Crook and Willington Urban District Council in 1970, before moving to Wear Valley District Council in 1974. She served as chairwoman in 1981/1982 and became leader in the 1990s. She won three terms for Labour and never lost a by-election.

However her contribution to public life did not stop there. Mrs Brown was also a magistrate, and raised the profile of Wear Valley across Europe as a member of the EU’s Committee of the Regions.

In 2007, she was made an honorary alderman of Wear Valley and was awarded an MBE, attending Buckingham Palace with her husband, Ken.

Two years later, Mrs Brown teamed up with her friend and political adversary, Chris Foote Wood, a Liberal Democrat, to publish a book called Tales From the Council Chamber.

Dave Hindmarsh, Mrs Brown’s second cousin, said: “Olive was passionate about local politics. She was kind but she didn’t suffer fools lightly and always stood up for what she believed in.”

Funeral details have not yet been announced.