Heartfelt tributes paid to Ribble Valley Citizens Advice Bureau's 'pillar of strength'

Friends and colleagues have paid an emotional tribute to Mary Gysbers, former chair of Ribble Valley Citizens Advice Bureau who died aged 81.
Mary Gysbers dedicated three decades of her life to RV Citizens Advice BureauMary Gysbers dedicated three decades of her life to RV Citizens Advice Bureau
Mary Gysbers dedicated three decades of her life to RV Citizens Advice Bureau

Mary supported the governance of Ribble Valley CAB office for over 30 years. For most of that time she worked as either chair or vice chair of the Trustee Board. She was one of three founder members in 1987 and chose to resign three years ago in 2018 due to her health. Until then she had been described as a "pillar of strength", a member of all three of the working groups to make the place run. The whole of the Ribble Valley community has benefitted from her generous gift of time and energy.

Paying tribute on behalf of many advisors and trustees who worked with Mary, her former colleague Katy Marshall, said: "Personally, I owe her so much. She was a kind and wise person to work with. Once, I was surprised as I celebrated winning funding for a two year National Lottery project when she immediately wanted to think about how it would turn out in the end. In her view, she said, two years wasn’t long. She was completely right and I needed that perspective!

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"We went together to the AGM in York one year. Mary chose to use a wheelchair to get around the large campus. One of the Citizens Advice staff looked over her head and asked me if I was her carer. Wow! How she glared and put them right. Outrageous! That busy organiser would not forget that lesson about respect in a hurry!

"Mary would help me to recruit advisers and she would always start interviewing the candidate by putting them at their ease with a few reassuring words. She was always keen to emphasise the bureau’s culture of equality to new staff and would say, 'If you put yourself on a pedestal, there’s only one way you can fall.' It was great to have her around."

Katy added: "Although she saw the good in people, Mary could also be very shrewd. She was a strong, clear-sighted ally in many struggles. We and many others owe her a great debt of gratitude and we wish to say that we honour her memory with respect and affection."