HUNDREDS of friends, family and community members came to say goodbye to one of Thurrock’s most loved councillors.

Diana Hale, a ward councillor for Stifford Clays, died on Thursday, August 29 after a six-year battle with breast cancer, and her funeral showed just how important she was in the eyes of many Thurrock people. She was 66 when she died.

There was not a seat to be had in the Grays Parish Chuch on Tuesday, September 10 as emotional well-wishers came to pay their last respects. However, despite the sadness in the occassion this was also a celebration of Ms Hale’s life as shown in the many tributes paid for her involvement in projects all over Thurrock.

Moving eulogies from her sister, friend and John Kent, leader of Thurrock Council, told stories of her life, raising smiles and offering their happy memories of Ms Hale.

Pam Adams, her sister, said: “We were always encouraged to do the best in all we did. What stands out is although she was an organiser she wanted the best for all of us and had a selfless and generous heart.

Cllr Kent paid tribute to Ms Hale’s commitment to the council and the community.

“Looking at the sheer number of people in this room is a far more eloquent tribute than words can ever say. She would have been thrilled to see so many people here today and know how well regarded she was across Thurrock.

“Diana never lost a battle in her life. We lost a good and loyal friend and we will all miss her dreadfully.”

Ms Hale was a champion of the Davey Down Trust, a member of the Thames Chase Joint Committee and became cabinet member for education in 2010. She also became chair of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee in May.

Last October, Labour leader Ed Miliband presented Ms Hale with a merit award for outstanding service to the party, the highest award it can offer.

Her love for giving was clear throughout her life and all donations at her funeral went to St Luke’s Hospice, Macmillan Nurses and the Davy Down Trust.

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