TRIBUTES have been paid to community campaigner and parish councillor Juliet Oakley, who has died after a long illness.
News of her death has come as a shock to the Pegswood and Longhirst communities where Mrs Oakley served as a parish councillor as few people knew about her illness and she was still actively involved in her community work until just a few weeks ago.
The mother-of-two was a tireless campaigner to try to preserve the three-tier education system in the area as a member of the Northumberland Education Action Group (NEAG) and took part in visits to Downing Street, marches and meetings to press the cause.
She was elected to the former Castle Morpeth Borough Council, where she served for two years until 2007, and was involved in numerous activities in Longhirst and Pegswood.
Mrs Oakley worked on the steering group which published the Pegswood Village Plan, was a member of Pegswood Community Action and was the driving force behind the successful bid for £45,000 of funding for a play area at the village Welfare Park.
Despite her illness, Mrs Oakley also played a major part in organising the official opening of the facility by the Duchess of Northumberland in June.
Pegswood councillor David Woodard said: “A lot of people knew Juliet and worked with her, but they were unaware of the situation she was facing because she confided in just a few people and she was very active.
“She will be a great loss to the parish council because she was so active, she didn’t just turn up for meetings, she was out doing things.
“Her opinions were always first class and if I was ever in doubt about something she would be the first person I would go to for an opinion. She was always worth listening to and was a very sound person altogether.
“Juliet used to organise, as well as make her views known, and she was involved in everything, even litter picks in the village. With two teenage children she had a great affinity with children and she was instrumental in the play area project, as well as organising for local children from the first school to be there for its opening.
“She had all sorts of interests, and was even going to pottery classes until very recently, but her family were the biggest part of her life.”
He added: “Juliet will be greatly missed by her council colleagues and everyone who met and worked with her. Her family, husband Tim, son Ben and daughter Charlotte, have suffered a great loss and deserve our deepest sympathy.”
Coun Andrew Tebbutt, who served with Mrs Oakley during her time on Castle Morpeth Council, said: “It is extremely sad.
“Juliet wasn’t long in local politics, but during that period she made a fantastic contribution and earned the respect of all her colleagues and anyone who knew her.
“She is a terrible loss for the population overall and it is a tragedy for her family.”
A memorial service will be held in St John’s Church in Longhirst on Monday at 2.30pm.