Tributes have been paid to “legendary” Fife activist and campaigner Irene Laing who has died following a battle with cancer.
Irene will be best remembered for her work over more than three decades, supporting residents and individuals experiencing difficulties in Glenrothes.
A founding member of the Glenrothes Area Residents Federation (GARF), as well as secretary of West Glenrothes Residents Association, Irene helped support countless numbers with housing issues and financial hardship.
She was diagnosed with cancer in January and died last week, aged 60.
Born and raised in Falkland in Fife, Irene spent a number of years in Aberdeen before returning to Fife to work in Glenrothes.
Irene’s son, Ross Laing, said the family had been overwhelmed with the number of messages and tributes.
“It’s been hugely comforting to us all to know how much the public thought of my mum and her work,” he said.
“We are immensely proud of all she achieved over many years.”
Friend and fellow GARF colleague, chairman Ian Robertson, who worked alongside Irene for more than 15 years, described her as a caring and compassionate individual and a “champion for peoples’ rights”.
He added: “Irene’s expert knowledge as well as her care and understanding for each individual’s circumstances was legendary and will be irreplaceable.
“There will be thousands of people whose lives were made better by Irene’s tireless and dedicated work and I never once saw her turn away a client or refuse help.
“As GARF’s office administrator for many years she made things happen but never with a need for applause or recognition.
“She will be sorely missed.”
Close friend and secretary of Auchmuty Tenants’ Association, Alex Thomson, said the town has lost a “shining light”.
“It’s devastating news for her family and a huge loss for the town,” she said.
“Irene’s work supporting the people of Glenrothes cannot be overstated, she was a wonderful friend and colleague.”
Former Glenrothes councillor and Fife Council leader, Peter Grant, now MP for the town, said he was saddened by the news.
“She played a major role in seeing the need for a town-wide voice for both tenants and other residents and was a driving force in what we now know as the Glenrothes Area Residents Federation from its earliest days,” Mr Grant said.
“As a chair at meetings Irene had a great knack for making sure everyone had their say, and for looking for compromises and common ground between opposing views.
“At the same time she understood that there were times when the talking had to stop and it’s notable that the groups she was involved with all had a track record of acting rather than just talking.
“On a personal level Irene was a kind and caring person who gave an extraordinary amount of time to our local community even when she had significant other commitments.
“I would hope that in due course we can find an appropriate way of making sure that Irene’s contribution to the town is given permanent recognition.”