Tributes have been paid to former Oldham council leader Jean Stretton following her death aged 64.
Coun Stretton, who represented Hollinwood for 19 years, became the council’s first female leader back in 2016. She replaced Jim McMahon after he stepped down upon being elected as MP for Oldham West and Royton.
She held the position for until 2018 when she was replaced by Sean Fielding following a crunch vote by fellow Labour councillors. Jean was raised on Oldham’s Alt Estate and educated at Alt Primary School and Hathershaw Comprehensive schools.
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After studying an MBA at Bolton Institute, she returned to live in Hollinwood in 1989. Jean has lived in the area ever since and was elected as a Labour councillor in 2003.
She has held several cabinet positions in areas including housing, health and wellbeing, town centres, culture and tourism.
Coun Stretton also served as chair of Oldham Credit Union, and a governor at several schools. She was also a keen supporter of Oldham Foodbank.
In 2013, Coun Stretton was named ‘Community Champion of the Year’ at the C’llr Achievement Awards for what judges called her “inspiring work to help her community in Oldham recover following a gas explosion” in Shaw.
She leaves behind her husband John, two step-children, five grandchildren and a great granddaughter.
Werneth councillor Fida Hussain is among those who has paid tribute to Coun Stretton following her death.
He tweeted: “Shocked and saddened to hear of former leader, colleague and friend Cllr Jean Stretton who sadly passed away @OldhamCouncil.
“Will be missed by many. Prayers and thoughts with family.”
John Rooney, assistant director of information, customers and communities at Rochdale council, wrote: “Very sad to hear of the passing of Cllr Jean Stretton – a kind, compassionate and dedicated public servant.
“My thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues.”