The family of one of Morecambe’s “greatest characters, champions and ambassadors” say they are devastated by her death.
Evelyn Archer, a former Lancaster City Councillor, head of Morecambe Town Council and chair of the Friends of the Winter Gardens, passed away at The Royal Lancaster Infirmary on November 4, aged 78.
Described as the “heart and soul” of the town’s famous Winter Gardens, she worked tirelessly to lead the restoration of the iconic building, resulting in it being relaunched as an entertainment venue once again.
In a statement, her family said she had “left a big hole in our hearts that will never be filled”.
Mrs Archer was once the leader of the largest political group on Lancaster City Council - the Morecambe Bay Independents - retiring from the role in 2010.
The same year, together with her husband Mike, she was invited to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
Mike died of cancer in December 2010.
Mrs Archer represented Poulton ward and was cabinet member for the economy, first being elected as a city councillor in 1991.
Prior to this she had various roles including as a nurse and a bed and breakfast owner.
She was friends with Thora Hird and Ken Dodd, and had a passion for brining entertainment back to Morecambe.
In a statement, her family said: “As well as her passion for Morecambe and The Winter Gardens, she was a huge part of the lives of all of us.
“She was strong, passionate and determined and this has passed through to each of us in a variety of ways.
“We are all incredibly proud of who she was and all the things she achieved in her life.
“As well as her public achievements, she loved spending time with her family, whether it was holidaying in Ibiza, enjoying cocktails on sunset strip, or visiting family on the south coast, she was outgoing and young at heart.
“She has done numerous things throughout her life, from nursing, to amateur dramatics, to running a bed and breakfast, to being a local councillor, but whatever it was she threw her all into it.
“We loved her with the passion that she showed to each of us. Her death has devastated us all and she has left a big hole in our hearts that will never be filled.
“To sum her up she was passionate, loving and larger than life and will forever be mum, nanna, great nanna.”
Former Visitor reporter Greg Lambert paid tribute to Mrs Archer on Facebook.
He said: “Evelyn Archer was one of Morecambe’s greatest characters, champions and ambassadors. She truly loved this town and shouted up about it every chance she got. And she was the heart and soul of the Winter Gardens.
“Her passion, strong principles and drive saved one of Morecambe’s most historic buildings and she would not take no for an answer any time the theatre was under threat. She led the restoration from the front and scrapped and battled until it was functioning as an entertainment venue once again.
“I hope Evelyn realised how much she was respected and admired and how much of a debt of gratitude this town owes her. I personally have so many wonderful memories of boxing, wrestling, festival, charity and entertainment nights in the Winter Gardens and but for Evelyn they would never have happened because the building would now be rubble or a supermarket.
“I will always remember how devastated she was at the town hall meeting when they closed The Dome.
“Every time she showed me around the Winter Gardens she radiated pride and deep knowledge. She was a historian of Morecambe and somebody I would always go to if I needed to know something about the town.
“She was a force of nature for sure because she was so strong in her convictions. But Evelyn also had a huge heart, was always great company and immensely generous.”
Many others who have worked alongside Mrs Archer to the benefit of Morecambe have also paid tribute.
She leaves behind her daughters Linda and Julie, son Alan, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Linda said that following her funeral, on a date to be set, Mrs Archer’s wake would take place at the Winter Gardens and all would be welcome to attend.