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Blind councillor and community worker retires after years of service

Joyce Phipps is retiring after 50 years at Sight Service.'mayor and mayoress Richard and Patricia Porthouse
Joyce Phipps is retiring after 50 years at Sight Service.'mayor and mayoress Richard and Patricia Porthouse

A Labour Party stalwart and tireless community worker has retired after decades of service to the visually impaired.

Former councillor and mayor of South Tyneside, Joyce Phipps, lost her sight early in life.

Joyce is a real unsung hero

Stephen Hepburn

But she went on to achieve many remarkable things, especially for other people in her situation.

She founded the Jarrow and Hebburn Blind Club, served as chairman of both South Tyneside Blind Welfare Committee and the Northern Regional Association for the Blind, and was trustee of the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Now Mrs Phipps - who never reveals her age - has retired from her role as chair of Gateshead and South Tyneside Sight Service, based at Gordon Street in South Shields. And she has been hailed an “unsung hero” for her years of service by Jarrow Labour MP Stephen Hepburn, who has known her for decades.

Mr Hepburn, who attended her farewell bash, said: “I was delighted to attend the retirement celebrations of Joyce and to pay tribute to over 30 years of service from her to the local community.

“This is a truly outstanding achievement and Joyce is a real ‘unsung hero’ of our society. I would like to wish Joyce a very long and happy retirement.”

Even after her retirement from local politics, Mrs Phipps remained active in the community and was one of the driving forces behind a campaign to save the Queen’s Road Day Centre in Jarrow. Mrs Phipps, who represented the Monkton ward from 1979 until 1999, joined forces with another ex-mayor, Maisie Stewart, to fight the closure.