Tributes have been paid to ‘inspirational’ former mayoress who has died at the age of 66.

Sayeeda Mulla was the Mayoress when her husband Salim Mulla was Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen in 2014.

She died following an illness earlier this month and was buried on June 7 in the Olive section of Pleasington Cemetery.

Former councillor Salim Mulla said he was immensely ‘proud’ of the work his wife did to help raise awareness of kidney disease within the borough and beyond.

He said her work would go on to save many lives in years to come.

Mr Mulla said: “She wanted to do something special during her time as Mayoress and boy did she do that.

“We still have people coming up to us long after we were Mayor and Mayoress.

“Sayeeda was a true inspiration to people across the borough and I am so proud of her.”

The couple set about raising funds for kidney dialysis machines when they were the borough’s first citizens. 

It was a cause Sayeeda had personal experiences of as she had undergone a life-saving kidney transplant herself in 2011.

She had been waiting for a donor since suffering kidney failure in both kidneys in 2005.

She would later lead efforts to create more awareness of kidney donation within the Asian community, something for which she was praised by all sections of the local community.

Mr Mulla said: “As Mayoress she worked so hard and we attended so many engagements. She really took on the role of fundraising and made huge effort to reach out to all communities.

“Illness and sickness affects all people from all backgrounds and people were aware that the fundraising efforts would help everyone.

“At the time we were raising money for a Kidney Care appeal and the aim was to buy one dialysis machine.

“We ended up raising £80,000 and we paid for two machines at the local hospital.

“It was all a testament to Sayeeda and her drive and commitment.”

Dialysis machines clean the blood of people suffering from kidney failure, whose body is unable to do so, and are vital tools for patients as they await a transplant.

Mr Mulla said when she got sick and was taken to hospital staff would come up to her and thank her.

He said “I remember when we went to the hospital staff were so appreciative and they still remembered her.

"It was so wonderful that people would realise how much she had done to help others.”

Speaking in 2015, when the kidney dialysis machines were delivered to the hospital, Mr Mulla said: “It’s a very proud and emotional day to see the equipment here at the hospital.

“It is a testament to the generosity of the people in Blackburn and Darwen that we were able to smash the original target.”

The total cost of the machines was £30,000 and the remainder of the money was used to provide support for kidney disease sufferers.

Sayeeda was mum to five children and grandma to 11.

Mr Mulla added: “She was so supportive of all my work and I have been in politics for over 40 years.

“She was always volunteering to help others at any opportunity she could. I remember her small acts of kindness, like when she would leave a store and if she spotted someone sitting outside she would buy them a sandwich and a hot drink.

“She encouraged me to spend 15 years working with the Citizens Advice and was like a rock.

“She also supported me in international charity work and helped to set up an orphanage in Sierra Leonne.

“I miss her so much and I know things will never be the same without her.”