Tributes paid to leading magistrate, mother and grandmother Ann Darling OBE

The family of a leading South Tyneside magistrate have paid tribute to a woman who was committed to improving the lives of people in South Shields.

Ann Darling OBE has passed away aged 81.
Ann Darling OBE has passed away aged 81.

Ann Darling OBE, of Cleadon, passed away at the age of 81 on Tuesday, October 15 following a short battle with lung cancer.

Ann, an early feminist and advocate for social mobility, had been a magistrate in South Tyneside for 40 years and was key in the building of South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

In 2014 the grandmother received an OBE for her services to magistracy after holding the post of head magistrate in Tyne and Wear for two decades.

Ann Darling OBE has passed away aged 81.

From 1966-1972, Ann was also an independent councillor for Simonside and later went on to found Age Concern South Tyneside, as well as running the Mayor’s charity for several years.

Ann was also instrumental in the running of the longstanding family business, JM & W Darling chemists in South Shields, alongside her late husband, leading pharmacist and health figure, William ‘Bill’ Darling CBE.

Together, the couple kept the business – which was founded in 1910 - thriving for the last 50 years.

“[My mother] had been determined to live life to the full and not let the fact that she was the woman of the partnership hold her back,” said son, Paul Darling QC.

(From left) Bill Darling OBE CBE, Dr Camilla Darling, son Paul Darling OBE, Ann Darling OBE and His Honourable Judge Ian Darling.

“She was an early feminist and was determined that women had a place in society.”

Paul, who was given an OBE for services to sport, safety and horse racing, continued: “As a councillor she spent a lot of her time trying to improve people’s lives. She took a strong view about social mobility and believed everyone had the right to opportunities.

“I think she would say getting South Tyneside Magistrates built and keeping a court in the borough was one of her biggest achievements.”

Paul, who intends to keep the chemists going with the rest of the family, added: “South Shields was her life, it was a very important part of everything that she did.

Ann Darling OBE (second left) as chair of South Tyneside National Savings Committee, 1977.

“We’re still committed to the people of South Shields, because the area was so important to my mother.”

The funeral service will be held at South Shields Crematorium on Monday, October 28 at 2pm.