TRIBUTES have been paid to a cancer campaigner who is estimated to have raised £12m in a storied fundraising career.

Hilary Craft established Action Against Cancer in 2011 after initially collecting £390,000 for life-saving equipment at the Central Manchester and Manchester Children's hospitals.

But for the past 22 years Hilary, who was given an OBE last year for her charitable exploits, had been waging her own battle with the condition.

Her family has now confirmed she died on December 27, leaving her devoted husband and business partner Maurice, sister Joyce, and son Jonathan and his wife Rachel, as well as their twins Eva-Lily and Harry.

The crusader, from Whitefield, was also a well-known businesswoman, a partner for many years with finance company Regency Factors.

She had been due to celebrate her 45th wedding anniversary the next day.

A spokesman for Action Against Cancer (AAC) said: "“Inspiring is a word perhaps overly used.

"But it truly describes Hilary, who bore her cancer burden with grace, humour and without complaint for 22 years.

"Her striking combination of kindness and strength, seemed to fuel her endless energy for promoting Action Against Cancer and fundraising for the charity.

"As she would often say, Hilary believed she went through her cancer ordeal for a purpose.”

Her drive and passion saw AAC raise more than £12m - funds which hae been invested in research by scientists at Imperial College London (ICL), The University of Sussex and The University of Manchester, resulting in a number of important breakthroughs for better diagnostics and treatments for cancer patients.

Prof Justin Stebbing from ICL, added: “Hilary was a most remarkable person, an inspiration to me and numerous patients, but also the next generation of researchers, motivated by her story and personal journey to make a difference in cancer.

"She believed that her diagnoses could be used to potentially help millions of lives around the world.

"By establishing Action Against Cancer, she has helped the funding of numerous projects, from PhDs to programmes in some of the most critical areas of tumour biology.

"We understand cancer and its causes so much better, all thanks to Hilary's determination, fortitude, dignity and thoughtfulness.”

Her family has requested any donations in her memory be made to AAC online via