TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved Labour councillor whose 'wonderful smile lit up the room'.

Sue Dearden, who represented Chadderton Central on Oldham Council, has died aged 64 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The borough flag is flying at half-mast today as a mark of respect and books of condolence have been created for residents to pay tribute.

The mother-of-two and grandmother-to-three has been described as inspiring, compassionate and a champion for social issues including health and wellbeing, education and women's rights.

Friend of 10 years and fellow Labour Councillor Hannah Roberts said: "Sue had a wonderful smile that lit up a room.

"She was always really positive about what you could get done.

"She had a really good gift of friendship. She was compassionate.

"She really connected with people, provided support and went out of her way to help others.

"She was one of the best people I have come across."

Cllr Dearden first came to Oldham in the 1970s to take a job as a secondary school teacher in Chadderton.

She later worked in youth justice and education management at Rochdale Council, from where she retired around five years ago.

Most recently, she lived in Springhead, and enjoyed walking with her black Labrador Bertie.

Cllr Dearden was first elected to serve Chadderton Central in 2012, and later became chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board for Oldham as well as District Youth Champion.

In her health role, Cllr Dearden played a key part in supporting the Get Oldham Growing initiative, promoting healthy eating, social outdoor activities and improved dental health in children.

She was also a member of the Chadderton District Executive and Oldham Leadership Board.

Fellow ward councillor Eddie Moores said: "Sue was my much-respected friend and colleague.

"She will be sadly missed, not only by her colleagues, but also by many members of the community who she worked with.

"She was committed to the health and wellbeing of Oldham residents and was an advocate for the most vulnerable members of society, including refugees and asylum seekers.

"Most of all, I will remember her for her humour, inner strength and love for life."

Cllr Dearden was a regular volunteer at Oldham Unity, offering help and aid to destitute asylum seekers and refugees.

She was a proud equalities champion and described herself as a feminist, and, having been a single parent and carer for her father, she encouraged young women to be confident and ambitious, and understood the pressures many face in caring for their families.

Oldham Council leader, Cllr Jean Stretton, said: "It's incredibly sad to lose Sue and all our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly difficult time.

"I know her loss is felt by so many people. Sue was kind, positive, well respected and loved in every role she undertook, not just as a member of the council or party, but first and foremost as a mother, grandmother, carer and friend.

"She was a hard-working ward councillor and one that inspired people. She really made a difference in this borough through her work championing important social issues like health and wellbeing, education and women’s rights and that is her legacy.

"Although we all knew Sue was ill, her passing is very difficult to accept. We were blessed and fortunate to have known her and she will be greatly missed."

Cllr Dearden died at the Royal Oldham Hospital on Saturday, February 10 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the end of September 2017.

Books of condolence will be placed at the Civic Centre in Rochdale Road and at Chadderton Wellbeing Centre.

Donations are being taken for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund to help others in the future. These can be made at her books of condolence, by cheques payable to Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, PO Box 47432, London, N21 1XP, or online at

An online book of condolence has also been set up at

The funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.