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Political journalist who became council deputy leader dies aged 68

A regional political journalist who became a county council’s deputy leader has died aged 68.

Tributes have been paid to Mary Evans, who worked for titles across the country in political reporting roles and later served as deputy leader of Suffolk County Council.

Mary, pictured, began her career on the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star, later moving to the Cambridge News before joining the Press Association’s parliamentary reporting team.

On her final day in that job, she landed a scoop by being the only journalist in Downing Street when Michael Heseltine stormed out of Number 10 and told her he had just resigned from Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet.

Mary Evans

Mary, pictured, went on to be political editor of the Aberdeen Press & Journal and then the Western Mail.

She died on 23 January following a short illness. Details of her funeral have yet to be announced.

Her journalist husband Richard, who she met on the EADT in 1975 and married the following year, told the newspaper: “Mary was a shining star who stood out in any firmament, whether it be journalism, in a council chamber or at a party with family and friends.

“Above all, she was one of life’s ‘doers’ who possessed the rare knack of getting people, often with contrasting backgrounds or views, to work together for a common cause.”

Crawford Gillan, a former editor of the Star, recalled: “I first met Mary in the mid-1970s when we worked together on the evening paper in Cambridge.

“Not only was she a first-class reporter but she was great fun and had a disarmingly mischievous sense of humour. Along with my wife, we remained close friends for 45 years. We are devastated to lose her when she still had so much to offer.”

Mary returned to her home county of Suffolk in 2004 and was elected to the county council as a Conservative in 2013.

Richard said: “She loved her eight years as a county councillor, for which she was perfectly equipped, and was very proud of Suffolk.

“Whether it was helping out an individual, assisting one of her parishes or sorting out county wide issues, she put her heart and soul into it.

“I have little doubt had she started a few years earlier, she would have returned to Westminster as an MP – and she would have been a jolly good one.”

Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, added: “Mary was a hugely dedicated and kind councillor and a dear friend.

“She was determined to make a difference for the residents of Suffolk, whether in Clare division or as a cabinet member and deputy leader of Suffolk County Council.

“In the most difficult times during the pandemic, when we faced so much uncertainty, Mary was always a huge support to me and all our colleagues.

“Her contribution to our county can never be understated; she will be greatly missed by us all.”