TRIBUTES have been paid to a former CEO of Poole Lighthouse who has died after a short and unexpected illness.

Ruth Eastwood transformed the run-down Poole Arts Centre into a nationally renowned and loved venue, hosting the biggest of stars from Noel Gallagher to theatrical performances like Cinderella.

Chief executive, Elspeth McBain reflected on her time with Ruth.

She said: “Ruth’s passion for Lighthouse and her impact on the organisation was huge – the cultural life of Poole and the wider region owes much to her drive and vision."

She added: “Ruth was hugely respected and much loved in the theatre world.

“She achieved so much and had a positive influence on so many.

“What a legacy.”

Artist and broadcaster Sally Winter, a former trustee and deputy chair of Lighthouse paid tribute online, posting: “Professionally awesome, but personally even more so.

“Feisty, funny, hilarious at times, principled and hugely intelligent, steering a compassionate path through life. She was an enduringly loyal friend to me and mine.

“Our paths met as she bounced into her interview for the post of CEO at the former Poole Arts Centre. She shone then and on as she steered the rebuilding and rebranding of what is now Lighthouse Poole.”

Ruth was the CEO of Lighthouse from 1997 to 2008, she passed away on May 31.