first Asian woman councillor and champion for pensioners'
rights has died today.
Vaz died in hospital after a four-year battle with cancer.
She was 74.
had been suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and was admitted
to the intensive care unit in Northwick Park hospital, North
London, on Saturday.
her family revealed the tireless work Mrs Vaz carried out
to help the people of Leicester and in particular for hundreds
retiring from the city council in May, following 14 years
as representative of Charnwood ward, Mrs Vaz chaired the
council's first senior citizens committee.
then became a staunch campaigner in support of pensioners'
April, Mrs Vaz launched an annual Pensioners' Award scheme
to recognise the work of elderly people.
Blair, became patron of the scheme.
judges for the prize include Baroness Howells, the Bishop
of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, and Nick Carter, editor
of the Leicester Mercury.
a fitting tribute by trustees the scheme was today renamed
The Merlyn Trust.
Vaz and her late husband, Xavier, were born in Goa, India.
They came to Britain in August 1965 and lived above a launderette.
the death of her husband, Mrs Vaz moved to Leicester in
taught at Whitehall Primary School before standing as Labour
candidate in Evington.
1989 she was elected as a Councillor for the Charnwood ward
and then became the first Asian woman ever to serve on Leicester
was also elected the first chairperson of the council's
pensioners committee, which became the Senior Citizens'
edited and produced the first Pensioners' Guide, which listed
services for the elderly in the City of Leicester.
her council retirement party in March, Mrs Vaz revealed
her love of people and a passionate belief in education
which kept her going.
son, Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, said: "On her retirement
card she wrote "never forget the pensioners".
knew we would all be pensioners one day."
John Thomas, chairman of Leicester East Labour Party, said:
"She was unique. She made history and was a role model.
They broke the mould when they made her."
is survived by her three children, Penny, Valerie and Keith,
and five grandchildren, Dominie, Finn, Neil, Liberty, Luke