Southampton's mayor has today led the tributes to his mother, former mayor Ivy White, who has died aged 97.

Tthe long-serving councillor, who represented the Bitterne Park ward for nearly 20 years, was known for always putting the city and its people first.

A civic funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church on Tuesday, March 11, where community leaders will pay tribute to the former Conservative member.

The grandmother-of-two maintained her independence throughout her life until she suffered a stroke last month from which she was unable to recover.

Mrs White’s deteriorating health meant she was unable to be involved with the plans to celebrate 50 years of Southampton achieving city status.

She had been due to present the city charter at a special service commemorating the anniversary at St Mary’s Church.

Serving as mayor in 1987, she had always played a part in Southampton politics and Cllr Ivan White said his mother was “proud of supporting” the city.

He said: “She was very proud of becoming mayor, she was proud of the work she did as a councillor too. I became a councillor because it was family business. She was proud to see me become mayor too.

“She was a typical hard-working backbench councillor. She had a softly-softly approach. Her philosophy was to represent the people.

“She held the view that you vote for the person, not for the party. It was more about supporting people. She got on with things quietly. She was not one to blow her own trumpet, she just wanted to get things done.”

With six brothers and two sisters Ivy Mason was born in Columbo in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.

She lived there for the first ten years of her life before settling in Northam in the city.

She married Norman two weeks after the Second World War broke out, in September 1939.

Ivy received the Arctic Star medal last year on behalf of her husband, who died in December 1992, for his services in the merchant navy working on the Arctic convoys in the war.

Norman would eventually become president of the Bitterne Conservative Club and Ivy would stand in the ward in which she lived being elected in 1973 before standing down in 1992.

In 1987 she became Southampton’s 765th mayor and the 17th woman to become mayor and eventually became an alderman of the city.

Mrs White was involved in many societies across the city including the Bitterne History Society and the local St John’s Ambulance and was president of the Itchen Women’s Association.

Southampton Conservative party group leader Cllr Royston Smith said: “She was an integral part of Southampton politics and had a fantastic and very interesting life.

“She was a formidable and robust woman who knew her mind and wasn’t afraid to express it.

“She will be a terrific act to follow and has a legacy that will not be forgotten.”

The leader of Southampton City Council at the time when Ivy was mayor was Southampton Test MP, Alan Whitehead.

He said: “When she was mayor she really charmed everyone around her. She had a tremendous welcoming and unifying presence as a councillor.

“She was really passionate about Southampton and its concerns as a city and that shone through.”