TRIBUTES have been paid to a "loyal" and "highly respected" former councillor who has died.

Sylvia Mason represented the Labour Party on Bury Council for eight years, stepping down as Unsworth ward councillor in April 2003.

However, she remained active in the community, serving as secretary of Hollins Village Community Association (HVCA) until recently.

Radcliffe born and bred Mrs Mason, who died aged 85, has been described by those who knew her as "a very special lady".

Cllr Dave Jones, the leader of Bury Council, said: "I have known Sylvia for nearly 20 years.

"She was the chair of governors at Castlebrook High School where my children attended.

"A quiet stoical lady with strong socialist principles she also served as a Labour councillor, a governor of Hollins Grundy Primary School, and as secretary to Hollins Village Community Association.

"With a short break in service she also served as treasurer to the Bury South Labour Party up until two years ago.

"She was a popular lady who served the people of Unsworth long after leaving the council.

"I was at her bedside with her family the night before she died and I now believe she is at peace."

Mrs Mason was admitted to Royal Oldham Hospital after collapsing suddenly earlier this year. While in hospital, the family were told that she had cancer. She died on Saturday morning.

Cllr Joan Grimshaw, who represents Unsworth ward and who knew Mrs Mason in a personal capacity, visited her the week before she died.

She said: "Sylvia was a lovely lady and a very community-minded person. She would help anyone out. She did not have a bad bone in her body.

"I remember when I became a councillor, she told me what I needed was a coat of armour, and now I pass that advice on.

"It is very sad that she has passed away, it is a huge loss."

Previous responsibilities included sitting as chair of governors at Castlebrook High School, now Unsworth Academy, and a governor at Hollins Grundy Primary School.

She was chairman of communications and community development on Bury Council and promoted the development and expansion of the council's website to keep people informed about the local authority's services.

Paying tribute, Louise Brook posted on social media: "So sorry and shocked to hear of Sylvia's passing. When I first joined Unsworth's ward, Sylvia made me feel so welcome. Sylvia was a stalwart of the Labour Party. She was a special lady. I was extremely fond of Jim and Sylvia. Condolences to all her lovely family. RIP Sylvia."

Paying tribute, Annette Knaggs posted on Facebook: "I had the pleasure of working with Sylvia on both the board of governors at Hollins Grundy and during my time involved with HVCA. She was a wonderful lady and she cared deeply about her community. She will be missed. Love and prayers to her family."

Ivan Lewis, parliamentary candidate for Bury South, has also paid tribute, describing Mrs Mason as "very compassionate" and having "an amazing sense of humour".

He posted on Sunday: "Sylvia Mason was a very special woman involved in the Labour Party for decades.

"She was highly respected, super organised and very compassionate. She took her various responsibilities very seriously and didn’t put up with any nonsense.

"But she also had an amazing sense of humour, a great sense of fun and tremendous personal warmth.

"She was a rock to her lovely children, grandchildren and Jim before he passed away.

"I and so many others will miss her loyal and loving presence in our lives. RIP Sylvia."

"However, we felt the time had come to draw together all aspects of the website and provide a consistent and more user-friendly service.

"We also wanted to re-visit the links to other sites that have been established and make sure that they are fully operational and relevant.

"We are particularly pleased that our website is now extremely accessible and easier to use by visually impaired people."