A much-loved foster carer and dedicated councillor has been described as a “tremendous force for good” following her death.
Tributes have flooded in to Cllr Barbara Flack, 69, who died in the care of the Pilgrims’ Hospice in Canterbury on Friday.
She had served on the local authority since 2019 and was cabinet member for regeneration, property and parking in the Conservative administration, as well as vice-chairman on Blean Parish Council.
Cllr Flack lived in Canterbury for more than 40 years and in Tyler Hill for the last decade.
She was a great supporter of village life and a trustee of the Friends of Blean Church.
A single mother-of-four, Cllr Flack also had six grandchildren and used the Twitter handle Grandma Baba.
She offered long-term foster care placements to several children, many of whom had complex needs, and adopted her “shadow”, Emma, who led a life of social events, holidays and being included in her community - opportunities that she likely would have been denied, but for Cllr Flack.
Her family say that although she came to Canterbury in the 1970s, she remained proud of her Scottish roots, and they spent many summer holidays in her home village of Bishopton in Renfrewshire, exploring the lochs, highlands and cities.
In their tribute to Cllr Flack, they add: “Mum always helped others, even though as a single parent of four, plus foster children, it could be argued she deserved a bit of help now and then.
“These values have shown in the fact that her children have gone on to have long careers in the NHS, founded charities and become experts in the field of patient safety and care.
“Mum had a passion for music and was a gifted crafter, refusing to give up on a task and keen to learn new skills.
“She supported many charities and groups in the local area and fell in love with Blean the moment she moved there.
“She was a very dear friend to me - kind and selfless to the end, and I’d like her to be remembered as the tremendous force for good she was..."
“A strong and determined person, they were strengths she relied on later in life to positively contribute to her community.
“From her local parish work through to her city councillor role, helping others was at the forefront of her mind.
“She met so many wonderful people which we know made her immensely happy and proud.
“Even in failing health, her roles in local and city council remained an important part of her day.”
Council leader Ben Fitter-Harding says he is “utterly devastated” by Cllr Flack’s death.
“She was a very dear friend to me - kind and selfless to the end, and I’d like her to be remembered as the tremendous force for good she was,” he said.
He credited her with working hard to tackle and resolve many issues for the district, as well as overhauling the council’s disposals policy, bringing in millions for the district from underperforming assets.
Phil Hutt, the chair of Blean Parish Council, described Cllr Flack's death as “extremely sad”.
“She was always working for the benefit of the villages that she represented and with the best interests of the residents foremost in her heart and mind,” he said.
“Her wealth of knowledge was exceptional, and invaluable for the many tasks called upon as a representative of the community.”
Head of paid service at the city council, Tricia Marshall, says Cllr Flack always championed the needs of Blean Forest residents
She added: “She was also very passionate about our rural areas and was central to our relationship with parish councils over many years, playing an instrumental role in adopting our parish charter in recent months.
“And as a committee chairman and then cabinet member, her focus was on the whole district and how we could constantly improve the lives of local people.”