It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of the Leader of Barrow Borough Council, Councillor Ann Thomson.
Councillor Thomson died peacefully in the early hours of this morning, Tuesday, 31st January, surrounded by her family.
Today the Mayor of Barrow, Councillor Hayley Preston, paid tribute to the person she described as 'a true champion for the borough, its people and all that it stood for'.
Cllr Preston said: "Words are barely enough to express the sadness we feel at losing Ann. She was an incredible person; selfless, dedicated and hardworking, and a great personal friend to me and to many others.
"Ann never thought of herself and was dedicated to her family, of which she was so proud. But she also gave her time freely to charities and to the communities of Barrow which she served for more than 30 years. She was the Chair of Trustees at Women's Community Matters where she was famous for her wonderful cooking and the love, compassion and generosity of spirit she showed to all around her.
"No-one who met Ann could fail to be enthused by her honesty, passion and can do approach. She was the epitome of the phrase 'Be the change you want to see in the world' evidenced by her long service. She truly believed in the people of this borough - and she was passionate about making sure they had opportunity and belief in themselves.
"I learned so much from her and will miss her deeply. My thoughts are with Ann's family at such a very difficult time."
A long-serving member of the borough council, having been elected in 1990, Cllr Thomson served as the Mayor of Barrow between May 2015 and May 2016 before becoming its Leader in 2019.
She was also the leader of the Labour Group, represented Hindpool Ward, served on many committees and was the council's Lead Member for Cleaner and Greener Neighbourhoods.
A familiar and friendly face at Barrow Town Hall, Cllr Thomson will be greatly missed by her fellow councillors and council officers.
Cllr Thomson was also a member of the new Westmorland and Furness Council and the leader of the Labour Group.
Councillor Jonathan Brook, Leader of South Lakeland District Council and Leader of the new Westmorland and Furness Council, also paid tribute to Councillor Thomson.
Councillor Brook said: “Ann was a dedicated councillor and a passionate advocate for Barrow.
“I first worked closely with Ann when we were preparing our proposal for a Bay unitary authority and since then in our work to set up the new Westmorland and Furness Council. It was always very clear that she had a real commitment to achieving the very best outcomes for her communities.
"She also had wonderful good humour and a genuinely caring, open and friendly approach which endeared her to colleagues across the political spectrum. She will be a real loss.
“My thoughts are with Ann’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.’
Funeral arrangements for Councillor Thomson will be confirmed in due course.