Alston councillors and others active in the community have paid tribute to Margaret Bell, who died peacefully in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, aged 77.
Born in Birtley, near Gateshead, Margaret was the daughter of Jacob James and Lillian Clark. In her early years she attended school in Birtley.
Margaret’s father died and her mother subsequently met and married Richard Oliver.
The family moved to Leadgate, Alston, after which Margaret went to the town’s high school and then Samuel King’s School.
Leaving school at the age of 16, she pursued a career in nursing at Ruth Lancaster James Cottage Hospital, Alston, progressing from there to Hexham and Newcastle for further training.
It was at a football club dance at Alston Town Hall that Margaret met her future husband Frank Bell.
They were married in February, 1963.
The couple initially rented a furnished cottage at Clitheroe, Alston, and later bought a nearby property.
They had two children, son John Paul and daughter Louise Anne, both born at Alston’s cottage hospital, where Margaret went back to work.
She was a member of Alston Young Wives and the town’s WI, of which she became president.
She was elected to Alston Parish Council, later serving as chairperson on a number of occasions, and was a member of the authority for 21 years.
Margaret also took a great interest in Alston Town Hall, doing much to help restore it to the way it is now, and was active in raising funds for the cottage hospital and other good causes.
At a meeting of the parish council, members spoke of her pivotal role in saving the town hall from ruin, and she was described as a model councillor.
County councillor Claire Driver thanked her for all the work she had done and said she would be a “real miss to the area”, while district councillor Lissie Sharp said Margaret had provided her with great support, adding that she had many fond memories of her.
Margaret and Frank enjoyed several cruises with friends Ronnie and Joyce Green, from Garrigill.
Margaret also appreciated three cruises with Louise and one with both her husband and their daughter.
Margaret is survived by her husband Frank, Alston; son John Paul, Manchester; and daughter Louise, Alston. She had three grandsons, Matthew, James and Oliver.