A WOMAN who has been described as a treasured community champion and cornerstone of local politics has died, aged 89.

Tributes have been paid to great-grandmother Winnie May, of Flaxley Road, Selby, who was a Selby town and district councillor, and a former mayor of Selby.

Mrs May was also a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during the Second World War.

When she was taken to Leeds to sign up to the Army at the age of 17, she found the recruitment office closed, and instead enlisted with the WAAF, working in the cookhouse at Wyke, in Scotland.

She met her husband Ronald in Newark where he maintained aircraft, and when he was sent to Egypt she went straight back into the WAAF.

After the war, they returned to Selby where Mrs May got involved in local politics as a member of the Labour party, and became a town and district councillor.

Councillor Steve Shaw-Wright said: “Winnie was a corner stone of local politics for many a decade, and was never afraid to ask that difficult question, always the first to volunteer for party work.

“Winnie was also the mainstay of many community groups in Selby. She must have raised tens of thousands of pounds for local groups, but perhaps she will be best remembered by towns folk, as the poppy lady, the slightly eccentric, cycling-riding, fundraiser for armed service charities who, come rain or shine, would collect for those worthwhile charities.”

Winnie later stepped down from town council duties due to ill health, but remained involved in local activities, including collecting information and concerns of local residents, and the Royal British Legion.

Councillor Doreen Davis, a close and long-standing friend, said: “Winnie has always been there for her family and also been there raising money for charities. I don’t think there’s a charity in this town she hasn’t worked hard and got money for. She’ll be a great loss to the town, and she will be missed.”

Coun Shaw-Wright said: “I sincerely wish there were more like Winnie but Winnie was a one-off. Whether as a community member, a labour comrade, a trade-union sister or a friend, she will be greatly missed.”