TRIBUTES have been paid to a disability campaigner following her death after a long illness.

Rosie Watson, 50, from Darlington, was wellknown in the town for the time and effort she gave to many charitable organisations.

Profoundly deaf, she was a passionate campaigner for disability rights in education, having successfully fought the discrimination she faced while studying at Durham University.

Her case against the university, which was settled out of court with a £25,000 payout, received national publicity, which she hoped would pave the way to improving access to higher education for other deaf students.

After her experiences, Mrs Watson worked as a volunteer at Darlington Association on Disability (Dad) to ensure that other deaf students were well-supported in further education.

Lauren Robinson, chief executive of Dad, said: “Rosie worked for Dad as an information worker and also gave many hours of time volunteering, supporting disabled children on the Dash play scheme and piloting a national scheme to inspect nursing and residential homes with the Care Quality Commission.

“She also participated in consultations and involvement work with the local authority, including the disability equality steering group, always ensuring that people’s views were heard with the aim of improving the lives of disabled people.

“Everyone who met Rosie was captured by her warmth and friendliness and willingness to help others.

“Even though her work and voluntary commitments were important to her, it was her family that always took first place.”

Mrs Watson’s voluntary work also included the Education Centre for Children with Down’s syndrome, where she supported children and young people to learn and she regularly attended Darlington Deaf Club to share information and highlight issues affecting the deaf community.

As well as her charity work, Mrs Watson, who leaves three children and three grandchildren, was also known for running Crusty’s Cafe, in North Road, with her husband, Ian, for many years.

They recently gave up the business to spend time together.

Mrs Watson’s family will hold a memorial service on Monday, at 5.30pm, at St Augustine’s Church, in Larchfield Street, Darlington, for friends and colleagues to remember her life and work.

Donations will be accepted in aid of St Teresa’s Hospice in her memory.