A COMMUNITY spirited “force of nature” died after suffering a stroke just hours before she and her husband were due to travel the West Indies for the winter.

Vera Fletcher (67) and her husband Peter were due to board a train for the first leg of their journey to their holiday home on the island of Nevis when she suffered a bleed on the brain.

She spent six days in the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington before her death.

The couple lived in Haydon Bridge for the past three decades and made themselves well known in the community, with Mrs Fletcher serving as a member of Haydon Parish Council for 20 years.

Her funeral was held at St Cuthbert’s Church, in Haydon Bridge, on Friday on what would have been her 68th birthday.

Mr Fletcher said: “I have concluded that the only description that really captures Vera is ‘force of nature’ because she was very energetic, determined and got a lot of things done.

“She was well-liked by all sorts of groups and, at her funeral, there was everyone from the caretaker at the high school to a local farmer who we used to take horse racing.

“She was very helpful to a lot of people, but she wasn’t a mug and she would make people work for her help.

“She used to say, ‘I am just popping down to the village’. Two hours later, she would reappear.”

Born in Oldham, in Greater Manchester, Mrs Fletcher met her future husband as a student at Newcastle University during a training course for people working in residential services for offenders.

A long distance relationship formed before Mrs Fletcher joined her husband-to-be in Lambeth, near London, where she had a successful career as a social worker, working in mental health and with teenagers.

After their sons James and Nick were born, the family moved to the North-East when Mr Fletcher got a job working for Anchor Housing Association.

They settled in Haydon Bridge and never looked back, both immersing themselves firmly into village life.

Mrs Fletcher was perhaps best known for her role on the parish council, leading the village’s flood plan after the floods in 2006 and organising the hanging baskets every year.

Mr Fletcher said: “In this role, as in life, she was a magnet for people’s issues and problems, sometimes even before they were aware that there was a problem they needed to face up to.

“She had an ability to see into people’s minds and people would tell her anything and everything.”

Mrs Fletcher was active in the charity sector and set up a small endowment fund with her husband through the Community Foundation.

The fund was aimed at local charities which needed funding to fulfil often small dreams or goals, with Chrysalis at Tynedale the latest initiative to benefit. She even had plans to set up a similar scheme in Nevis to help the residents on the island she had visited many times in the space of 12 years.

As she loved the island so much, Mrs Fletcher’s ashes will be scattered on Nevis.