UKIP councillor and lifelong Thurrock resident Maggie O'Keeffe-Ray has died.

Mrs O'Keeffe-Ray had been battling a brain haemorrhage since she collapsed on Saturday, August 23.

Her condition had improved, but sadly, the damage was too severe and despite the efforts of doctors and nurses at Queen's Hospital in Romford in recent weeks, Mrs O'Keeffe Ray passed away last night.

She was 62.

Mrs O'Keeffe-Ray, of Purfleet Road, Aveley, had been elected to represent the Aveley and Uplands ward as a councillor alongside her husband, Robert Ray, in May.

She was widely regarded as having been at the forefront of Ukip's rise to prominence in Thurrock over the last few years.

Paying tribute, Ukip Euro MEP Tim Aker said: "Maggie lit up any room she was in.  She had a smile and the time of day for anyone.  We are all devastated and upset, but she will want us to soldier on.  She will always be with us."

Cllr Graham Snell, leader of the UKIP group on Thurrock council, said: "Maggie was the heart and soul of our branch.  She was always ready with a big hug and a bigger smile."

Thurrock Council leader, Councillor John Kent, also paid tribute to Mrs O'Keeffe-Ray. He said: “At this sad time all of our thoughts and prayers are with Robert and his family.

“Although only elected in May, Maggie was always at Robert's side, so we had come to know her well over the last couple of years and her passing touches us all.

“In that time I came to know Maggie as a gentle and caring soul. She will be missed.”