TRIBUTES have been paid to a straight-talking Sidmouth ‘legend’ described as ‘a small woman who will leave a mighty big hole in the community’.

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Jane Sutherland-Earl has been remembered as a no-nonsense and dedicated town representative, a ‘wonderful’ woman and a loving mum.

The 84-year-old, of Sid Road, died peacefully in Exeter Hospice on December 15 after being admitted to hospital a fortnight before where she was diagnosed with cancer.

Her funeral service took place at East Devon Crematorium on Tuesday (December 31).

Jane was a former chairman of Sidmouth Town Council, the Sidmouth Voluntary Services charity and Sidmouth in Bloom to name a few of her community exploits.

She once served on the town, district and county councils simultaneously.

Close friend Frances Newth described Jane as ‘one of life’s characters’ and a ‘truly unforgettable lady’ with a ‘winning smile and a twinkle in her eye’. The two once shared a town council ward.

“I feel like it’s the end of an era,” said Councillor Newth. “She was never one to mince her words and was strictly no-nonsense.”

The funeral service taken by her friend ,the Reverend Robin Laird, who said: “Jane was feisty but always had the interests of Sidmouth at heart.

“She was so fond of this place – a small woman who will leave a mighty big hole in the community.”

Current town council chairman John Hollick described Jane as a ‘legend in her own right’.

He added: “We have lost a past chairman, a friend and a lovely lady.

“I thought she was absolutely wonderful.”

Joy Seward had lunch with Jane every Friday after the two forged a strong friendship as they successfully led the Sidmouth in Bloom committee together for decades.

She expressed her sadness and added: “Jane worked hard for Sidmouth.”

Another ex-council colleague, Graham Liverton, said Jane will be ‘greatly missed’.

“She had a real strength of character and loved Sidmouth. She would argue her corner very well,” he recalled.

County Durham-born Jane was once a member of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.

She and her late husband Lee, who was in the RAF, ended up in Sidmouth around 20 years ago via Bahrain, Singapore and a host of other places.

The couple are survived by their sons Mark and Steven.

Mark said of his mum: “She did things her way, was very independent and had an opinion on everything – which was a good trait.”

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