Tributes have been paid following the sudden death of a staunch and dedicated Ilfracombe woman who embodied the community spirit of the town.

Sue Garwood was involved in all aspects of Ilfracombe life. Picture: Charmain LovettSue Garwood was involved in all aspects of Ilfracombe life. Picture: Charmain Lovett

Tributes have been paid following the sudden death of a staunch and dedicated Ilfracombe woman who embodied the community spirit of the town.

Sue Garwood died just after midnight on Monday after being airlifted to Taunton on Saturday with a stomach aneurism – she had major surgery but doctors were unable to save her.

Sue, 69, was hugely involved with numerous projects, especially those involving history and she was an enthusiastic champion of Ilfracombe Museum, first as a volunteer and then as a trustee.

She leaves her husband Mick and her funeral will be on Thursday, July 19 at North Devon Crematorium at 11am, followed by a service at Holy Trinity Church in Ilfracombe at 12.30pm and a wake after at Trinity Rooms. See below for more details.

Sue Garwood always had a smile and a willingness to take part. Picture: Charmain LovettSue Garwood always had a smile and a willingness to take part. Picture: Charmain Lovett

Museum manager Sara Hodson said everyone was completely shocked at Sue’s sudden passing and her loss would leave a huge hole.

She said: “She was by nature a passionate and committed person and as a museum volunteer, then trustee; she made a huge difference to us. Whenever Sue got involved in a project, I could be sure it would be delivered!

“Sue also became a good friend of mine, I valued her sense of humour and her honesty. She had a gift for making connections between the many groups in Ilfracombe that she was part of, and in so doing she broadened the museum’s horizons.”

Sara said Sue had a key influence on the museum’s future and had left it with a vision of an exciting new extension – a legacy which they hoped to fulfil in her memory.

Ilfracombe's Sue Garwood has passed away suddenly age 69.. Picture: Charmain LovettIlfracombe's Sue Garwood has passed away suddenly age 69.. Picture: Charmain Lovett

A passion for history

Sue was involved in so many things, almost too many to mention. In 2014 she galvanised the town to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, including the ‘Adopt-a-Soldier’ scheme where local children could join the commemoration march with a picture in memory of their chosen WW1 soldier.

She also co-ordinated a memorial mosaic in Runnymede Gardens in remembrance of war dead which was unveiled in November 2015.

She helped volunteers to transform the overgrown graveyard at Holy Trinity Church and they keep that work up to this day.

As part of that she organised hugely successful Dead Famous in Ilfracombe evenings where people could learn more about the famous characters buried there.

Her friend Erica Castle, who worked with her on the Holy Trinity graveyard, said Sue had ‘made a massive difference’. She said: “I met her through voluntary work four years ago and she has literally changed my life, getting me involved in her various projects.

“She became one of my best friends. It was a massive shock and I still expect her to walk through the door.”

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones said: “I was very saddened indeed to hear that Sue had passed away so suddenly. I had the pleasure of meeting her on many occasions and discussing how best to secure the future of Ilfracombe Museum.

“It was something she was absolutely passionate about, and her hard work contributed so much to the community. My thoughts are with Sue’s family and friends and all those who knew and worked with her. She will be very much missed.”

‘Incredibly sad’

And Charmain Lovett summed it up on Facebook, by saying: “Your passion, your enthusiasm, that naughty streak in you that meant you just said it like it is - it makes me so incredibly sad that I’ll never get to experience that again.

“There is a shockwave running through this town as one of its pillars has left us without warning.”

All are welcome to attend either the crematorium service on July 19 at 11am or the one after at Holy Trinity at 12.30pm.

Mick Garwood has requested family flowers only, but donations may be made to Ilfracombe Museum, ring-fenced for the new extension appeal. Donations may be left care of AD Williams Funeral Directors.