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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Tributes to ‘gentleman’ councillor who cared for Cumbria

HUNDREDS of mourners gathered to pay their last respects to a popular Cumbria community figurehead.

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dignified Hilary Stephenson, the widow of Councillor Jo Stephenson, inset, follows the coffin into the church at St Martin’s Church, Bowness MILTON HAWORTH REF: 50066838B003

The funeral of Councillor Jo Stephenson, serving deputy leader of Cumbria County Council, was held in Windermere yesterday.

The 59-year-old died on July 24 after suffering a stroke while in the Royal Preston Hospital.

He was recovering from serious injuries sustained during a 30ft fall from a third-storey window at his Windermere home six weeks ago.

News of his death shocked friends and colleagues who had expected him to make a full recovery.

The service, attended by community leaders from across Cumbria, was held at St Martin’s Church with mourners meeting afterwards at Windermere Social Club.

Councillor Clare Feeney-Johnson, a fellow Liberal Democrat county council cabinet member and friend of the keen amateur dramatist and sportsman, said: “Jo was a personal friend as well as a political colleague and this is one of the saddest days I have known.

“Jo was an inspiration for many of us and gave up so much of his time and resources in order to try and make Windermere and Cumbria a better place.”

Tributes were paid to the father of two, a former history teacher at The Lakes School who went on to become a solicitor before pursuing a career in politics.

The former chairman of South Lakeland District Council also ran a popular bed and breakfast in the town with his wife Hilary, a former acting leader of SLDC.

News of Mr Stephenson’s death drew tributes from friends and colleagues across the North West including Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

Councillor Graham Vincent, who was at Cllr Stephenson’s side when he died, described him as a “gentleman”.

He said: “Jo was a gentleman. Always caring and considerate.”

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