Published: 14:00, 05 February 2020
| Updated: 17:18, 05 February 2020
Colleagues of city councillor and former university lecturer Gill Gower have been left devastated after the mum-of-five was found dead.
The 64-year-old, who was elected in May last year to represent Labour in Westgate ward, lived in Canterbury for 30 years.
She was an occupational therapist who worked for the NHS for 30 years, managing services at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and serving as a union shop steward.
Described as a "formidable woman", Cllr Gower then became a senior lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) for 12 years in the School of Allied and Public Health before retiring in 2017.
Her Labour Party colleagues said they were in shock after she was found dead at her home in Puckle Lane yesterday.
Police confirmed they were called at 6.15pm yesterday following the death of a woman in her 60s at a property in Puckle Lane, Canterbury.
A spokesperson said: "The woman's death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for the coroner."
Leader of the Labour Group Cllr Alan Baldock said: “This is such terrible news. Gill was key part of the Labour family here in Canterbury and just settling into her role representing the people of Westgate.
“She believed passionately in green issues, of the need to fight to ensure our most vulnerable had a voice and will be terribly missed.”
Labour MP Rosie Duffield said: “Gill has been a wise and kind friend to me over many years.
“This is a great loss, not only for me personally, but also for our community who have lost a hard-working and dedicated local councillor.”
Cllr Gower sat on the regeneration and policy committee at the city council and was an active campaigner in the district.
She is survived by her son Nick and daughters Hannah, Ellie, Merren and Ceinwn.
Close friend Paul Todd, chair of the Canterbury Labour branch, said: "She looked out for others more than herself.
"Whenever you spoke to her, you felt like you were the most important person to her at that moment in time."
Former colleague Lindsey Keefe, programme director for BSc Occupational Therapy at CCCU, said: “She actively and willingly shared her wealth of knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for the profession in all of her work through her engagement with students and with peers across the whole university community.
“During her time at the university she led on and championedissues regarding sustainability, ensuring this was given due regard which reflected her own personal values and beliefs.
"She took all of her responsibilities seriously whilst injecting her own unique sense of humour and colourful personality.
"She will be missed by current students, university alumni and colleagues alike.”
City council chief executive Colin Carmichael said: "Gill had only been with us for a few months but had already shown herself to be a committed and hard-working councillor for residents in Westgate ward.
"She was particularly interested in air quality issues and had been working with officers on anti-idling signs around the level crossing in St Dunstan's.
"It's very sad news and the thoughts of everyone at the council are with her family and friends."
Her family have asked for time to mourn privately. Details of the funeral will be available at a later date.