Tributes have been paid to a stoic woman who "gave so much to the community yet sought little in return".

Former Mayoress of Epsom, Helen Reed, of Woodland Close, Ewell, died aged 90 on January 8.

Mrs Reed made a lasting impression on the community and at a thanksgiving service in her memory, on February 18, her friend and neighbour, Epsom and Surrey County Councillor Eber Kington, gave a moving tribute.

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Coun Kington said: "We are here to give thanks for the life of Helen. A life of public service and of private love and laughter yet also private pain.

"She was a senior civil servant, Mayoress of Epsom and Ewell, but also a wonderful wife, great friend and neighbour.

"To all those who knew her, and to the many who met her in passing, she was bright, warm, cheerful, gracious and caring."

Mrs Reed had lived in Ewell since 1961 with her husband Jonathon, a former Mayor of Epsom and Ewell.

Coun Kington said: "As Mayoress of Epsom and Ewell she was a constant at Jonathon’s side. Sharing the burdens of office but never seeking to be the main event.

"Charming, engaging, thoughtful and interested, she gave so much to the community yet sought little in return."

Coun Kington said Mr Reed would always test-run his speeches at home in front of his wife before delivering them in public.

He said: "Perhaps after years in the Ministry of Works poring over multi-million pound contracts, such as those for Concord and for the aerodrome on the Falkland Islands, Helen understood what words meant, and also their power to convey and change meaning."

He also hailed her fortitude during the Mayoral year when she lost her younger sister and suffered an accident that left her in pain and requiring a crutch.

At an Epsom Council meeting, on February 18, Councillor Jean Smith said: "It was 20 years ago when I first met Helen. She was petite in stature but huge in love and kindness.

"In all those years I never heard her complain, although I know she was often in pain."

She said they both suffered from claustrophobia as a result of similar and frightening experiences during World War Two.

Coun Smith added: "I was of course sad to hear of her passing and she will be missed by not only Jonathon but many friends including me."

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