TRIBUTES were paid today to one of South Tyneside’s longest-serving councillors after her death from lung cancer at the age of 66.
Coun Jane McBride, who represented Westoe as an independent, died at her home, The White House in Westoe Village, in the early hours of Saturday.
Some time ago she changed her name by deed poll back to her maiden name, McBride, having formerly been known as Jane Branley.
During a near-30-year borough political career the staunch feminist and trade union activist gained a reputation as a passionate community campaigner, originally as a Labour councillor and latterly as an independent.
Today her husband, Allen Branley, paid heartfelt tribute to his wife of 23 years.
He said: “My wife, Jane McBride, died in the early hours of Saturday morning at our family home, The White House, Westoe Village, as she had wished. Had she been granted more time she would have wished to have spent all of it with our grandson Jack McBride, who was the one true love of her life.
“Despite Jane having helped and impacted upon many thousands of people’s lives in her lifetime, she wished that no announcements be made, that there is to be no service, religious or otherwise, nor any other mark of her passing.
“She has chosen to be buried privately without ceremony in a place of her choice. It has been a privilege to have been married to a beautiful person for 23 years, and I shall, along with her family, ensure her wishes are complied with.”
Coun McBride was born in South Shields and attended the town’s Barnes Road Infant School for Girls.
Her wide-ranging working life saw her go from a wages clerk at the former Port of Tyne Authority to a careers officer with South Tyneside Council and management roles at the City of Sunderland College. She served as a Labour representative for Westoe from 1986 to 1994.
But after growing increasingly disillusioned with national politics, she was elected as an independent for the ward in 2004 and was subsequently re-elected in 2007 and 2011.
Her ethos was always to ensure that the people of her ward were properly represented and she made it her duty to knock on doors to talk directly to residents about their concerns.
Coun Jeff Milburn, who represents the Conservatives in Cleadon and East Boldon, said: “Jane was an outspoken person who brought her colourful character to the council chamber.
“It was known she had been unwell for some time and our thoughts are with her family at this difficult time.”
Former mayor and Labour representative for Whiteleas, Coun Ernest Gibson, said: “I was very sad to hear of Jane McBride’s death and my condolences go out to her family.”
A long-time opponent of South Tyneside Council’s Labour-run council, Coun McBride applied to rejoin the party in February last year after deciding to “return to my political roots”.
But South Shields Constituency Labour Party rejected her application.
Speaking to the Gazette at the time, Coun McBride told of her treatment for lung cancer, expressing determination to remain “positive over the future”.
She said: “It has been a very difficult couple of years. The treatment in the first year was particularly onerous.
“It was one of the reasons I have not been as politically active as I have been in the past, although I have gone to as many meetings as I could. It definitely slows you down.
“My attitude is really just to get on with life and hope the cancer does not spread. You’ve just got to go on living, as a lot of other people in a similar position do.”
n Jane never shied away ... Page 6