FORMER Barrow Labour councillor and widely-revered local party stalwart Edith “Edie” Garside has died at the age of 101.

Born in Nantwich, Cheshire, in 1918, Mrs Garside would have celebrated her 102nd birthday next month.

A tireless defender of the underdog and a crusader for countless community causes, Mrs Garside served as Walney North councillor for many years following her election in 1979.

Described as “a true champion for Walney and Barrow as a whole”, Mrs Garside spent her final years as a resident of Risedale at St George’s Nursing Home in the town.

Despite her diminutive appearance, the pint-sized socialist was a formidable force whose steely determination to get things done is still remembered by the party faithful.

Terry McSorley, former office manager for Labour MP John Hutton, who worked closely with Mrs Garside in the Barrow party’s Hartington Street offices, said: “It is a signal of how respected Edie was within the local Labour movement that the party headquarters in Hartington Street is named Garside House in tribute to Edie and her late husband Joe.

“Both Edie and Joe were long-serving Co-op insurance agents for many years before retiring.

“I once said of Edie that she may look like a sweet little old lady, but she carries a brick of conviction in her handbag – so woe betide anyone who gets on her wrong side.

“I think she appreciated that testament.”

Mr McSorley added: “Barrow has lost someone who really deserves to be remembered as a true champion for Walney and Barrow as a whole.”

Veteran Barrow Labour councillor Anne Burns also paid tribute.

Cllr Burns said: “Edie Garside battled for those in greatest need.

“She saw what was happening in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. She didn’t like it, and she fought back. What you saw with Edie was what you got. She believed in Barrow and the entire community. She had a wicked sense of humour, but she was also capable of being very serious if push came to shove.”

A civic party from Barrow Borough Council will attend Mrs Garside’s funeral service at the town’s crematorium on Wednesday at 10am.