Campaigner for Exmouth local democracy and social justice Sybil Cardy has died at 97.

Sybil was raised up at Hartnoll Farm near Tiverton, now the site of the mid-Devon showground. She spent part of her life living in Australia and returned to join her parents in Exmouth where she raised her two girls, so it was only on retirement that she started to focus on issues that affected Exmouth.

She joined the Exmouth Federation of Business and Professional Women and was its president for some years. This group promoted the cause of women in business internationally and Sybil was able to attend conferences that gave her opportunities to travel again.

She lived first on Exeter Road, then Phillipps Avenue and finally Keverel Road, before moving to Chagford to be nearer her family. For the past seven years, Sybil has lived at Rose Lodge care home in Exmouth and died on December 26 2023.

Sybil lived in Exmouth for over 50 years and during that time she helped shape its recent history. She helped campaign for an Exmouth Town Council and she fought against the plans to develop Exmouth Dock.

Before 1996, Exmouth had no town council and decisions were made by East Devon District Council. The town crest had remained out of use and there was no elected body of local representatives to govern the town.  In the early 1990’s Sybil harnessed the organisational skills acquired over many years as a civilian administrator in the Middlemoor Police Traffic Centre, and along with Fred Giles, Ray Davison and many others of like mind, began a campaign to regain control. In 1996 Exmouth was once again able to make its own decisions and elect local councillors. In 1997 she gained a seat as an independent councillor with very little campaigning.  Fiercely independent, her seat was won largely by the fact that locals knew what she had done to achieve a town council. She was later made deputy mayor in recognition of this work.

Sybil's daughters Caya Edwards and Tracy Gould said: "Sybil campaigned to bring public attention to the community at Shelley Beach between the docks and the Exe Estuary. Like many people, including fellow campaigner Jim Shapter, Sybil was concerned about the proposals to demolish the modest single-storey dwellings that were connected to local fishing and sea-related industries along with the livelihoods and the community that existed there. The proposal was controversial and ultimately the development of houses and flats in this prime position went ahead. Exmouth docks, whose walls were said to be unsound and the basin too small for modern shipping, became a marina. Sybil took little consolation from the fact that their campaign resulted in closer examination of the proposals and the retention of some historic structures. Shelley Gut with its slipway was also preserved.  My sister and I remember the petitions and signatures. Pouring over maps showing rights of way that would no longer exist, she felt that a significant part of Exmouth’s social history as well as its heritage would be swept away with the bulldozers.

"Sybil regularly wrote to MPs and Prime Ministers on issues of moral and social justice. At a time when the internet was in its infancy, Sybil believed in the power of the pen.  She wrote to Tony Blair asking him to back down from military action against Iraq and to question his belief that Sadam Housain was amassing weapons of mass destruction."

Her funeral will be held at St John in the Wilderness Church, Exmouth.