A former mayor and councillor who received an MBE for her commitments to local government has died.

Joyce Holgate, who was affectionately known as the 'Countess of Whalley', died on June 16, aged 91.

Joyce will fondly be remembered by many for serving as Mayor of the Ribble Valley twice, as well as representing the Whalley ward on Ribble Valley Borough Council.

Ribble Valley Borough Council leader, Cllr Stephen Atkinson, said: “Joyce was one of the council’s longest-serving members, who received an MBE for services to local government in the 2012 Queen’s birthday honours list.

“She was also Ribble Valley mayor twice – the only councillor in the borough’s history to do so – which is a remarkable achievement and a testament to her commitment and dedication.

“Joyce was an outstanding councillor, who served her community well for decades, and was affectionately known as the ‘Countess of Whalley’.

“She was extremely popular among Whalley residents and council staff alike and will be sadly missed.”

John Atherton, president of Whalley Chamber of Trade, which Joyce helped to establish, said: “As you may already be aware, Joyce Holgate MBE - former Ribble Valley Borough Councillor, Whalley Parish Councillor and Mayor of the Ribble Valley - sadly passed away on June 16.

"A community star whose name will always be associated with Whalley Chamber of Trade and Whalley Pickwick, Joyce was a passionate supporter of this village and not least its business community.

"She will never be forgotten and, both individually and as part of the business community that she held so dear, we send our deepest sympathies to Joyce’s family and loved ones.

"There are many stars shining in the sky, but none shine more brightly than Joyce’s dresses.

"Farewell to our very own Countess of Whalley - I loved her to bits and the world needs more Joyces."

A lifelong Conservative, Joyce bowed out of local politics in 2019 due to poor health.

The MP for the Ribble Valley, Nigel Evans, said "Joyce knew everyone in Whalley" and will be so very missed.

He said: "I was hugely fond of Joyce. 

"She had the sweet shop in Whalley, and when I came from Swansea I had worked ten years in my grandfather's shop which also sold sweets, so we had a similarity together before we even started.

"She knew everyone in Whalley. When you walked down the street with her you had to factor in a 30 minute delay so she could stop and say hello to everyone.

"She was so well recognised and established, and she was proud to be part of the council and to represent the area, and when she was made MBE she was over the moon to be recognised in that way. 

"There's lots of people out there who are unsung heroes but it's great that Joyce was recognised for the colossal contribution she made.

"Things will never be the same in Whalley now. 

"For her incredible family, they had the extra aspect of sharing their mum and their gran with so many other people as everyone wanted a little bit of her.

"My thoughts are with her family at this time but they must be so proud at having her so well respected for such a long time in the community.

"I will miss her and everyone says the same, it's very sad, but we are all the better for knowing her and having her in our lives."

Councillor Ged Mirfin, who represents Whalley and Painter Wood, added: "I have just received the sad news that Joyce Holgate MBE sadly passed away.

"Joyce was Ribble Valley Borough Councillor for the Whalley ward for many years and Mayor of Ribble Valley twice. 

"She was affectionately known as the Countess of Whalley by her many friends so well known and held in high affection was she.

"My thoughts are with Joyce's family."