A COLOURFUL and popular former mayor of Kendal and councillor has died.

Mum-of-five Gwen Murfin passed away in her sleep at Furness General Hospital surrounded by her family.

Ms Murfin, 63, of Kendal's Hallgarth Circle, had been receiving treatment for terminal cancer.

People paying tribute described her as a 'warrior to the end' and  'loyal, lovely, feisty and mischievous'.

Others said 'a star has gone out'.

Son Steve Gibson told the Gazette: "She was the most strong-hearted woman you could get and would do anything for anybody.

"She always put others first and always taught us that we didn't have to prove anything to anybody and there wasn't anything we couldn't do. It's a big loss to us and to Kendal."

Growing up in Sedbergh, she went to Settlebeck High School, and also joined the Army.

She has four sisters, Carol, Melody, Liz and Nicola as well as a brother Rick, and five children Lisa, James, Bobbie, Sammie and Steve.

Politically, she represented the Mintsfeet and Underley wards for the Liberal Democrats and became Kendal's mayor in 2007.

At the time, she had served as a Kendal Town and South Lakeland District councillor for five years.

At the time of her appointment, Coun Murfin, told the Gazette she liked nothing better than getting her hands dirty in the garden and listening to music from her favourite artists like Bob Marley.

She was also described as a keen environmentalist who enjoyed reading, watching documentaries and current affairs.

Westmorland MP Tim Farron said today: "Gwen was a good friend to me, Rosie and the family.  But she was more than that, she was a real community champion for Halllgarth. 

"She fought to make her community better and made a difference.  My thoughts are with her sisters Nichola, Caroline and Liz and her children. 

"We will miss her smile, her positivity and her get up and go.  She was a fighter till the end.”

Coun Peter Thornton, leader of SLDC, said: "Gwen was a one off, unique character, who spoke as she found and would always stick up for her community.

"As a Hallgarth resident, she understood the estate and knew almost everyone who lived there."

"Like all strong characters, it could be uncomfortable to be on the other side of an argument with her, but she was good-hearted and kind. It doesn't seem possible that she's no longer with us and we're all going to miss her terribly. RIP Gwen xxx."

Coun Ian Stewart, a long-time Liberal Democrat, said: "I'll always remember when she was mayor of Kendal as I was chairman of SLDC at the time and Gwen had had some kind of army background.

"We both attended the remembrance parade and there was Gwen...dressed as mayor but still with her Dr Martens on! It's terribly sad because she was very well liked."

No funeral date has been given yet as her family are currently making arrangements.