I was the leader of the Liberal Democrat councillors in 1990 when Chrissie Hitchcock was first elected.

My last term as a councillor ended in 1998, but Chrissie kept in touch and was a loyal and reliable friend, as well as being a formidable ward councillor.

She chaired the Kingston Town Neighbourhood, was twice mayor and did thousands of good things, but above all she was a fantastic human being and never let municipal pomposity get in the way of having a good laugh.

Her opponents sometimes underestimated her – that was their mistake.

To serve as a local councillor and be repeatedly reelected by the voters on every occasion over 25 years is an exceptional achievement. And Chrissie was an exceptional woman.

If I remember rightly, this is the first time I have written a letter to the Surrey Comet since I stood down as leader of the council in 1997.

I have broken an 18-year silence to pay tribute to Chrissie Hitchcock and underline the point that she was one of the finest councillors I had the privilege to serve alongside.

Kingston was lucky to have been served by her for so long.