Hundreds of people gathered to say their last farewell to community stalwart Joan Minto.

Mrs Minto, a former Workington town and Allerdale councillor, town mayor, district chairman and alderwoman, died last month at the age of 87.

St Mary’s Church in Westfield, the ward she represented and where she lived, was packed for her funeral yesterday (Wednesday).

The Reverend Julia Powley, leading the service, said: “Her service to Allerdale spanned 36 years. Alongside that she was a governor at Westfield school and she served on the board of Westfield Housing Association.

“As the local paper told us very clearly in the last few weeks, she loved the community and she gave her life to serve it.”

She added that when Mrs Minto’s husband Billy died in 2003, former Labour leader of Allerdale council Brian Wilson gave a tribute at his funeral.

It was then that Mrs Minto asked him to do the same for her at her funeral.

Mr Wilson remembered Mrs Minto for the active role she played with the Labour Party.

He said one time she was assaulted by a man trying to steal her handbag, which contained party funds.

He said: “I went to see her, battered and bruised, and asked ‘Why didn’t you let go of your handbag?’ She said: ‘I couldn’t, it had Labour Party money in it.’”

He added that in her political role, Mrs Minto did not enjoy giving speeches. “She used to get up and say: ‘Well, you all know me and you don’t expect a speech, so let’s just mingle.’

“Part of her role that she did enjoy was meeting the people.”

In the latter part of her life she became actively involved with Westfield Housing Association and Footsteps Nursery.

Mr Wilson said: “She really did take great thrill out of the fact the nursery was such a huge success.”

He added there were three “monuments” people would remember Mrs Minto for: St Mary’s court in Westfield, which helped to secure for new social housing, the Minto Centre, named after her husband, and Allerdale House, which was opened while she was chairman of Allerdale council.

Mr Wilson said: “Those are things you might remember Joan by, but as far as I’m concerned I will remember her for her smile.”

The Rev Powley said Mr and Mrs Minto had married at St Mary’s church, but one of their sadnesses was not to be blessed by the gift of children.

However family and community was everything to Mrs Minto.

“Joan loved children and she made up for it by loving everybody else’s children,” she added.

n The News & Star had permission from Mrs Minto’s family to attend the funeral.