Gordon Brown leads tributes to Jan Wilson

FORMER Prime Minister Gordon Brown today led tributes to ex-Sheffield Council leader Jan Wilson - who has lost her three-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.

Leave a message of condolence for Coun Jan Wilson on our web site - CLICK HERE.

Many politicians have paid tribute to a compassionate, unassuming but gritty political fighter who stood up for the people of her city.

Mr Brown, who met her several times during her 12 years as Labour leader, said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of her death.

As leader at the Town Hall from 1998 to 1999 and then again from 2002 to 2008, Coun Wilson oversaw the transformation of Sheffield city centre.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2006 but continued as Labour leader through her treatment.

She stood down as group leader just a fortnight ago.

Coun Wilson had recently started a new round of chemotherapy but her death at the age of 66, in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital on Monday night, came as a shock.

Gordon Brown, speaking to The Star from his home in Scotland, said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of Jan Wilson's death.

"She achieved a great many things for the Labour party but most of all for the people she served in Sheffield.

"She worked tirelessly to improve people's lives in the city she loved. I would like to pass my deepest sympathies to her family and friends."

Coun Wilson's daughter Jane Jacks described her mum as her "hero" and best friend".

She added: "I'm so grateful that she had the privilege of being leader of the city council - she was made for the job and never stopped fighting to get the very best for the Sheffielders she represented.

"Throughout her illness she never missed a day of work and even set up a comfy chair in her office so she could have a little doze between meetings when she felt under the weather.

"I looked to her for advice and support and she approached every situation with her trademark common sense approach and sense of humour.

"I will miss her lots and I'm so proud of her life and everything she achieved."

Lib Dem leader Coun Paul Scriven said Coun Wilson had Sheffield "running through her veins".

He added: "I have always had the utmost respect for Jan and the way she worked. Jan was born a Sheffielder and you could always tell that she was immensely proud to lead her home city.

"She showed what a true fighter she was by battling on for so long despite her illness.

"I'm deeply saddened to hear the news that Jan has passed away. My thoughts are with her husband Nick and the rest of her family.

"The Town Hall won't be the same without her."

Green councillor Jillian Creasy said: "This is very sad news for the city and for everyone who knew her personally.

"I had the utmost respect for Jan. She had no interest in promoting herself but pursued her work for the sake of the city. She will be sorely missed in the council and beyond."

Council chief executive John Mothersole said: "Jan was an inspiration to us all. She was totally committed to working for Sheffield and was recognised for her dedication by being awarded a CBE in 2006."

Brightside and Hillsborough MP David Blunkett said: "No-one could have been more courageous or struggled more gallantly against her prolonged illness.

"This was a measure of someone who had given her whole life to caring about and improving the lives of others. She will be sadly missed."

South East Sheffield MP Clive Betts added: "Jan was completely dedicated to the job and respected by colleagues and opponents alike for her honesty and integrity.

"She was Labour through and through - but more importantly she was Sheffield through and through."

A council spokeswoman added: "Jan asked for her thanks to be given for all the help and support she received from friends, colleagues and many, many wellwishers over the time she has been battling cancer."

Leave a message of condolence for Coun Jan Wilson on our web site - CLICK HERE.

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