East Devon District Council (EDDC) announced the passing of Councillor Valerie Ranger, better known as Val, on Wednesday, August 10. Val lost her 18 month-long battle with stomach cancer on Tuesday, August 2.
Mary Stenson www.devonlive.com
Friends of Val, Liz Dowen and Lesley Woolley, who set up a GoFundMe to help pay for Val’s stomach cancer treatment, paid tribute to the ‘inspiring’ local woman. The announcement of her passing said: “It is with a sad and heavy heart that we have to announce that Val passed away on Tuesday 2nd August 2022. Val fought this awful disease with such courage and determination. She was an inspiration to us all.
“With a constant smile on her face to the end and a determination to never give up, we have much to learn from her life, values and spirit. A truly inspiring and loving person who will be so missed, she made our community a better place to live. We will never forget her. Thank you to all of you who supported this appeal and gave Val precious time and hope.”
Val has been an active member in her local community for thirty years, starting out by doing voluntary work in 1992 in Sidbury in where she lived. She helped Second World War vets who had been denied disability benefits after being injured during the war.
Following on from her voluntary work, Val also taught at Exeter College from 1993 until 2020 when she had to leave due to her illness. She mainly worked with Access to Higher Education students, who are mature students seeking career changes and university access.
Val was known to share her vast range of skills as a teacher as she passed on her knowledge of shorthand to local Devon newspaper reporters.
Alex Richards, senior content editor at DevonLive, added: “It is with deep sadness we’re reporting on the passing of Val. There’s a generation of Devon journalists that owe her a great deal following her shorthand tutelage, just one of many strings she had to her bow. She was warm and witty, and we all found her a delight to work with. Our thoughts are with her friends and family at this difficult time.”
In 2013, Val began pursuing EDDC matters and was shocked by a ‘biased system’. The following year, she joined the parish council and then ran as an independent councillor for EDDC in 2015, proving to be a popular candidate after winning a clear majority. She was re-elected in 2019, becoming Vice-Chairman, a post which she remained in until her recent passing.
Putting locals first was one of Val’s core values as the GoFundMe page set up on her behalf explains: “She became part of the Democratic Alliance which is a collaboration between independent councillors, Liberal democrats and Green candidates in a bid to put politics aside and work on behalf of residents regardless of their political alliance.
“Along the way she was involved in ensuring Harpford Hall was retained as a community asset, and has campaigned for the retention of the red bridge over the River Otter to ensure residents have a safe walking route to and from Newton Poppleford and Tipton, as well as safety improvement measures on Four Elms Hill which should finally complete in July.”
In November 2020, Val received a stomach cancer diagnosis. In an October 2021 update on the GoFundMe page set up on her behalf, she described the first year with the illness as a “rollercoaster” but offered her thanks to “all those who have contributed to my fund, both financially but also with words of support and prayers.
“The response has been overwhelming and has made a massive difference to my physical and emotional well-being.”
After difficulty accessing treatment during multiple lockdowns, Val hoped that being open about her journey with cancer would encourage others to “take heart and feel able to doggedly pursue their doctors if they feel that something isn’t right and seek second and subsequent opinions if you are fobbed off or indeed written off.”
She expressed gratitude for the kindness of her friends for setting up the GoFundMe page and described Force Exeter and Honiton team hospice nurses as “brilliant”.