One of the best-known figures on Suffolk County Council, Liberal Democrat Caroline Page, has died a year after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Ms Page, 65, represented Woodbridge on the council for 14 years and was one of the driving forces of the Green/LibDem/Independent group that has formed the official opposition at Endeavour House for many years.

She was a towering figure in Woodbridge political life - and her husband Patrick Gillard said the way she increased her majority in every election showed that she got support from many voters who were not natural Liberal Democrats.

Ms Page and her family believe that her final illness was the result of the NHS cutting direct face-to-face consultations during the Covid lockdowns.

She first suffered symtoms in early 2021 - but these were diagnosed online as long Covid. It was only when she saw a doctor in the middle of last year that lung cancer was identified - and by then it was quite advanced.

Her husband Partick Gillard said: "She had wonderful care from the doctors and nurses once the diagnosis was confirmed - but still felt that she had been let down by the NHS in not being able to see someone to get an early diagnosis.

"Lung cancer is a terrible disease - and an early diagnosis is crucial."

East Anglian Daily Times: Caroline Page continued working on council papers from her hospital bed - this was her at work last Sunday.Caroline Page continued working on council papers from her hospital bed - this was her at work last Sunday. (Image: Ruth Leach)

Ms Page carried on working despite her treatment - and was still reading through council papers on her hospital bed at the weekend.

She continued to try to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis - and was featured on ITV's Anglia News coverage of the NHS 75th anniversary which was broadcast on the night she died.

She died at Ipswich Hospital at 7pm on Wednesday evening with her family around her.

Mr Gillard said: "She kept on working until the end. The cancer had spread and she had three brain tumours. Until last week there had been hopes that she could be transferred to Addenbrooke's for an operation - but in the end she was not strong enough for that."

As well as her husband she leaves a son, two daughters, two stepsons and a sister.

But the whole Woodbridge community will feel her loss - and a celebration of her life is expected to take place near the River Deben where she fought very hard to clean up the water.

East Anglian Daily Times: Caroline Page and Ruth Leach were keen open water swimmers on the River Deben.Caroline Page and Ruth Leach were keen open water swimmers on the River Deben. (Image: Ruth Leach)

One of her closest friends was photographer and fellow clean water campaigner Ruth Leach.

She said: 'It is a terrible loss for the people of Woodbridge but together we have prepared for this outcome for months and I will continue to fight for everything that she believed in; including better water recycling locally as well as campaigning for improved NHS access to in-person GP appointments." 

The leader of the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group at Suffolk County Council, Andrew Stringer, said Ms Page had continued to email her colleagues from her hospital bed until Monday.

He said: "Caroline was a true force of nature, a tireless campaigner, and a brilliant councillor. She set the bar for what a councillor should aspire to be.

"From fighting for cleaner Rivers to championing woman’s equality Caroline was a one off, always putting her community first.

"From those that had the pleasure to serve alongside her, we are proud to have called her our friend."

Suffolk County Council chairman Keith Robinson said: “Caroline was a well-respected, hardworking woman and dedicated county councillor since her election to the Woodbridge division in 2008.

"Caroline’s unwavering enthusiasm and relentless passion for serving her residents saw her achieve a great deal during her time in office, not only for those living and working in Woodbridge, but those across Suffolk through her wider responsibilities at the county council.

“Despite Caroline’s health challenges in recent years, she committed everything she had to ensuring Woodbridge and its residents were looked after and championed.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with her family and friends at this sad time.”