FORMER Hartlepool MP Peter Mandelson has paid tribute to a Labour party stalwart who died last month.
Lord Mandelson got to know Elsie Reed when he was elected as the town’s MP in 1992 and she acted as part of his campaign team, having done the same job for previous MP Ted Leadbitter.
Mrs Reed, whose son David was the former MP for Sedgefield, died after a short illness on November 28.
She was 89, and had spent all of her life in Hartlepool.
Mrs Reed, who was married to the late Wilf and was also a grandmother, was made a Freeman of Hartlepool in 1998 in recognition of her work in local politics.
Lord Mandelson told the Hartlepool Mail: “I learned of Elsie Reed’s passing with great sadness, but at the same time I have so many warm memories of her.
“Elsie was one of the town’s great Labour figures.
“She organised brilliantly, she was a superb campaign manager, she relished the political fight.
“But she also knew how to enjoy herself and to bring a tremendous social life to politics.
“Elsie used to share with me many photographs of decades ago, where she and other amazingly young-looking Labour ladies who I knew in their later years, could be seen laughing and having the time of their lives in the service of their party!
“Those were the days when, in politics, you could work hard and play hard.”
Lord Mandelson, who served as the MP for Hartlepool until 2004, added: “Of course her support for my predecessor Ted Leadbitter was indispensable.
“She carried a great workload with apparent ease but those close to her knew how many hours she put in and how tiring this load could become.
“When I came to the town and was selected in 1989, Elsie could not have embraced me more warmly.
“I went regularly to sit at her experienced knee and then, later, she came to my home in Hutton Avenue to enjoy the company of my mother and family and to participate in our parties together.
“And whenever the election came round, she was there, addressing envelopes like a Trojan and encouraging me and my team with yet more goodwill.
“She lived a great life and to a ripe age, her loyalty and sense of fun never leaving her.”
Mrs Reed’s son David, 66, added: “My mother never wanted to be elected either as an MP or a councillor.
“But she used to love working behind the scenes and doing a lot of casework to help people in the MP’s office.
“She sorted out housing problems, benefit issues, all sorts of things like that.
“She had a big influence on most of the people she came into contact with.”
Councillor Carl Richardson, chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “Elsie did a lot of work on behalf of the people of the town for almost three decades and was a very good liaison between the townspeople and the-then MP, Ted Leadbitter.
“Elsie will be very sadly missed and our sincere condolences go to her family.”