TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Ringwood mayor and New Forest District Councillor who had a “long and distinguished record of service to the community”.

Christine Ford, who served on Ringwood Town Council and New Forest District Council, passed away on August 1, at the age of 82, and has left a large hole in the lives of everyone who knew her.  Christine served both Ringwood Town Council and New Forest District councillor for the best part of two decades.

For many years Christine worked in broadcasting before becoming the first female mayor of Ringwood when she was elected to the role in 2009.  Christine was a mainstay of Ringwood, where she lived, joining the town council a few months before she retired from working life in 1999.

She worked tirelessly for the town of which she was so fond until she stepping away from civic life in January of this year.

A statement on Ringwood Town Council’s website said: "She had a long and distinguished record of service to the community, and her passion for Ringwood and commitment to public service were evident and an inspiration.

"Christine will be sorely missed by everyone and we send our very sincere best wishes to all her family and friends."

The leader of New Forest District Council, Councillor Barry Rickman, said: "Christine had a long and distinguished record of service to the community after being elected to the Council in February 2002 representing the Ringwood North ward.

"Christine served as consort to chairman Councillor Michael Pemberton during 2004/05 and then served as chairman herself in 2013/14, completing a highly successful year in the role.  "I accompanied her on some events and she was such a champion for the New Forest and would light up a room just by walking in to it.

"Christine was a very much liked and respected member of this council, with a keen eye and a kind heart, only standing down last May.

"I am sure all members and employees, both past and present, who knew and worked with Christine will have very fond memories of her and will sorely miss her.

"On behalf of the council, its members and employees, I send our very sincere condolences to her family and friends."