FAMILY and friends have paid their last respects to a much-loved woman who penned her own obit to inform loved ones she had "popped her clogs".

Jean Hedley, of Ferryhill, had prepared her death notice which was featured in The Northern Echo last week and contained an invite to her send-off yesterday.

Wharfedale Observer:

She said: "Jean Hedley would like to say to all her loving family and friends that she has finally POPPED HER CLOGS [sic] and gone to be with Ted, her loving late husband who she has missed terribly for 25 years.

"Don't be sad, she was ready, it was time to go. There are to be no flowers, no tears, no sad poems or hymns.

"Only smiles, happy memories and pretty colours at her send off in Durham Crematorium on Wednesday.

"Your love, support and kindness have been wonderful and I'll miss you all."

According to her niece Pam Boland, Mrs Hedley was born "in the middle of a snow storm" in Bishop Auckland on May 20, 1927.

As child she lived in the town, Escomb and Leeholme before moving to Kirk Merrington in 1947 and then to Ferryhill in 1966 where she stayed.

Mrs Hedley had a career in finance, working for the Coal Board and Sedgefield District Council, and married "the love of her life" and late husband Ted in 1947.

Following his death in 1993, Mrs Hedley was supported by friend of 70 years Betty Shepherd and "made a new life" in the heart of the Ferryhill community.

She became a founder member of the Friends of Ferryhill, in support of Dean Bank and Ferryhill Institute, helped fundraise thousands of pounds for local causes and set up a line dancing class which she ran for 20 years.

Ms Boland said: "She always said after she pops her clogs she hopes everyone else keeps their dancing shoes on."

For the last year Mrs Hedley had been living in Aycliffe Care Home, in Newton Aycliffe.

It was there that she received more than 100 cards for her 91st birthday in May, which family saw as a testament to those who admired her.

Paying tribute to her aunt, Ms Boland said: "She was the richest lady ever - family and friends rich, the best kind of rich. She invested her time, expertise and love in people and was surrounded always by love and admiration for her warmth, generosity, self deprecating humour, and her many talents including fundraising, baking, sewing, embroidery, knitting, crochet, and the list goes on."

She added: "Jean had a heart so big that it comfortably fit all of us in, it treasured each and every one and made us all feel special."

Mrs Hedley died aged 91 on October 24.