TRIBUTES have been paid to a "champion of all things Ellesmere".

Friends and family will pay their respects to Kath Owen, a former town mayor, at a memorial service on Friday (March 15).

Her son Mark said Mrs Owen, who died aged 85 on February 7, will be remembered as a "no-nonsense leader who worked tirelessly to improve Ellesmere’s facilities and image".

Mrs Owen was born in Yorkshire, moving to Ellesmere at the age of five.

Her mother was headmistress of the local infants’ school, then located at St Mary’s Hall.

She followed in her mother’s footsteps, training as a physical education teacher during the war years at St Mary’s College, Cheltenham, now part of the University of Gloucestershire.

Returning to Shropshire to teach at Oswestry College, she met and married Doug Owen who ran the family business, Owen of Ellesmere, a menswear and house furnishings retailer.

For nine years, she taught physiotherapy students at the Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen.

Her final teaching post was at Ellesmere College, where she was one of the first teachers in the county specialising in dyslexia.

She later took on the role of chairman of Lakelands and also served as a governor of Ellesmere College.

Mr Owen told how his mother developed a strong interest in encouraging enterprises, including the Ellesmere Town youth club and the Ellesmere Cottage Hospital League of Friends.

This led to her running for the town council and taking on the role of mayor in 1979 and 1980.

Later she led a group that fought successfully to keep open Lakelands Secondary School, then under threat of closure.

In 1983, she took on the role of organising committee chairman for an Exhibition and festival to promote Ellesmere.

The Duke of Westminster opened the four-day event and she spent the first day accompanying him in visiting the various displays and attractions, the pair being driven round in a vintage Rolls Royce.

"She dedicated her efforts to championing 'everything Ellesmere', never venturing into wider roles in North Shropshire or the Salop county councils," Mr Owen added.

Mrs Owen is also survived by her daughter Julie and by four grandchildren.

Her husband died in 2013.

A memorial service will be held 2.30pm on Friday at St. Mary’s Church, Ellesmere.