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Tributes paid to Chilton councillor and charity volunteer Gennie Ratcliffe
TRIBUTES have been paid to a woman who worked with passion and dedication for the community she loved for more than three decades.
Gennie Ratcliffe was well known in Chilton for her active public and social life and only slowed down in the last three years when she became ill with Alzheimer’s disease.
For around a year she lived at Lothian House Care Home, in Spennymoor, where she died on March 11 at the age of 80.
She is survived by daughters Margaret, of Chilton, and Maureen, of Spennymoor, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Mrs Ratcliffe had worked as a caretaker at Chilton Primary School until she took early retirement to fight breast cancer.
As soon as she was fit enough she threw herself into voluntary work at the Red Cross shop, in Newton Aycliffe.
After following her parents into the Labour Party, she also became a Chilton Town Councillor around 34 years ago and later became its chairman. Among the projects she worked on were fundraising for festive lights and play area improvements.
Chilton Mayor, Coun Elizabeth Bruce, said: “I knew Gennie a lot of years, she was very passionate about working for the community of Chilton and will be sadly missed.”
Mrs Ratcliffe canvassed in the Sedgefield constituency for Tony Blair at the start of his political career and when he became Sedgefield MP and Prime Minister she was a guest at Downing Street several times.
After her husband, Thomas, died in 1986 she rarely spent a day at home, preferring to be out with friends or making a difference in the community.
Maureen said: “She was Chilton born and bred and loved it.
“She was very well known and liked here, we’re very proud of what did for the village.”
Margaret added: “She was very passionate about doing what she could to improve things, through the council and at the Red Cross which she supported because it is an all round charity that helps a lot of people.”
Mrs Ratcliffe was a regular at Chilton Workingmen’s Club where she enjoyed playing for the ladies darts team and Age Concern events including bingo and lunches.
Her family thanked friend Joyce Allison, whose support they feel gave Mrs Ratcliffe strength in her final years.