HUNDREDS of mourners gathered at the funeral of a former council chairman who will be remembered as a redoubtable local politician who was treasured by friends and family.

Mother of two Pauline Charlton was chairman of Durham County Council and Mayor of Durham in 2013-14.

Loved ones and civic dignitaries packed St Wilfrid’s RC Church, in Bishop Auckland, today (Thursday, September 4) to celebrate the life of the 75-year-old, who passed away on Monday, August 26, following illness.

Originally from Houghton-le-Spring, she went to St Michael’s Catholic Primary School before passing her 11-plus exam to attend St Anthony’s Grammar School, a convent school in Sunderland.

She trained to become a teacher at Warrington and taught at several primary schools including Dene House Road Infant and Primary School and Westlea Primary School, both in Seaham, where she was headteacher and deputy headteacher respectively.

She and her late husband, Harry, had lived at Esperley, near Bishop Auckland, since 1984 and are survived by children Mark and Susie.

Cllr Charlton represented the Evenwood ward on Durham County Council and during her year as chairman raised £19,000 for the Butterwick Hospice and Treetops Children’s Ward at University Hospital of North Durham.

She held many other positions in public life which included roles at Cockfield Parish Council, Teesdale CAB, Teesdale Village Halls Consortium, adult education charity LEAP in Teesdale and a local history group to celebrate the life of 18th century astronomer and surveyor Jeremiah Dixon.

She was also a governor of primary schools in Cockfield, Ramshaw and Woodland.

Today’s service was led by Fr Michael Whalen, accompanied by Canon Jane Grieve.

Canon Grieve described Cllr Charlton as a common sense person with a zest for life and an interest in people who, even when faced with criticism, never felt discouraged or lost purpose.

She was a passionate advocate of the Gaunless Valley and Canon Grieve described her as redoubtable in local affairs.

“We all marvel at her energy, commitment and drive,” she added.

Whilst in office Cllr Charlton declined a controversial so-called clothing allowance - dubbed as spending on Geordie Armani by Prime Minister David Cameron - which was subject to a review of expenses at the Labour-led county council.

*The Northern Echo attended Cllr Charlton's funeral with the permission of her family.