TRIBUTES have been paid to an influential former councillor, who has died aged 89.

Rosemary Boynton, of Heighington, near Darlington, served as a Darlington borough councillor for Heighington and Coniscliffe from 1991 to 1999.

She was born into one of the oldest families in Heighington in 1924 and would eventually become one of the most influential figures in the village.

Mrs Boynton first joined Heighington Parish Council in the late 1950s and left in 1963. However, she always kept a keen interest in village life, and later rejoined the council in 1991 when there was a danger of the village bonfire being scrapped.

As well as serving on both borough and parish councils, Mrs Boynton was heavily involved with the Women’s Institute, the Homemakers, the over 60s group and the village hall association, of which she became the first secretary, and later one of its trustees.

She helped organise village fetes and was instrumental in bringing street lighting into the village.

Darlington borough councillor Gerald Lee, who took over from Mrs Boynton in 1999, said: “She has done an incredible amount in the village.

“Even when she retired from both councils she still kept a tremendous interest in what was going on in the village. She would attend all the annual meetings and ask all the provocative questions.

“It wouldn’t be unusual for her to ring me up and ask if I was covering this problem or tackling that one.

“She was quite feisty and you always knew where you stood with her, but she was also very caring and was a fantastic listener – I think people will remember her for that.”

Before serving as a councillor, Mrs Boynton and her husband of 56 years, Arthur, set up a fish and chip shop in the village, and later founded a fruit and vegetable business and wholesale company.

Following her husband’s death in 2003, she continued living alone in the village until 2009, when she moved to Bethany House nursing home, in Newton Aycliffe.

Mrs Boynton died in hospital on Friday, January 18.

She leaves behind four children, Jill, Heather, Nick and Dawn, eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Her funeral will be held at St Michael’s Church, in Heighington, on Tuesday (January 29), at 1.30pm.