Tributes after former leader of borough dies

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The funeral of prominent former Tory Amber Valley councillor Janet McKee was held this week, after she passed away aged 85 at a nursing home in Belper.

For more than 40 years, Mrs McKee was a stalwart of local politics rising to become leader of Amber Valley Borough Council, with her late husband, Jack, a former mayor of Belper, at her side.

She was a parish councillor in her home village of Crich before moving on to be an Amber Valley councillor, Derbyshire county councillor and an Alderman of Derbyshire - a title denoting a high-ranking member of a council.

Meanwhile, Mrs McKee also found time for charity work, spending more than half a century organising events for the Red Cross.

Born in Kilwinning, Ayreshire, Mrs McKee married Jack in 1950 and moved soon after to Hampshire for Mr McKee’s work. They then moved to Crich in 1960 where she began her interest in politics.

Following her death on Sunday December 15 at the Ada Belfield Nursing Home in Belper, a service and cremation was held in Mrs McKee’s honour on Monday, January 6 at Markeaton Crematorium,

She leaves two children, Jennifer and Donald, and three grandchildren, Claire, Russell and Neil, and great-grand-daughter Freya.

Daughter Jennifer said: “The reoccurring theme through most of the condolence cards we have been sent is that mum was an inspiration , that word is used quite a lot, and that’s such a nice thing.

“She is remembered very fondly by a great many people. Politics didn’t come into it, all she wanted was to make things better. I remember going to sewing bees with her to raise money for the Red Cross at the age of five.

“She was out door knocking in South Wingfield when the pit had just closed down. This miner said ‘I’m not going to vote for you, I’ve been Labour all my life’. Mum said: ‘That’s fine but what would you like to see done if I did win?’

“The chap pointed to this huge slag heap and he said: ‘If you can get rid of that you’ll have my vote. She won and the first thing she did was move the slag heap.”

Friend and Belper Town Council leader, John Nelson, said: “She was always there for the people of Belper. I worked with her as she and her husband Jack were a part of the Belper Improvement Group, which helped bring about Belper in Bloom. She was a wonderful lady.”