TRIBUTES have been paid to a “remarkable, strong woman”.

Judi Gifford, station manger at Lyme Bay National Coastwatch Institution (NCI), died on March 2 aged 68 following a battle with cancer.

Judi grew up in the village of Cranbrook in the Weald of Kent with her adopted sister Susan and her parents ran The Windmill pub.

The family moved to Boscombe, Bournemouth, in her teenage years where her parents ran a Conservative Club, before she moved to Guernsey at 18 to follow her dream of becoming a zoologist and worked as an apprentice keeper at the zoo.

She then spent some time in Switzerland before heading for a holiday in Berlin but ended up taking a job with the American military at their headquarters in Clay Allee Zelendorf as management of switchboard operators.

This is where she met Shirley, a great friend and later housemate, who was in Berlin with her then husband, who was in the RAF.

Judi and Shirley explored Berlin and witnessed the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

Judi was made redundant and Shirley separated from her husband, so the pair decided to return to Bournemouth before moving to Stourpaine, then Puddletown and finally Loders.

In 2010, Judi was diagnosed with breast cancer but was doing well before it returned in 2016, but she carried on and became absorbed in her voluntary post with Lyme Bay NCI, which has look outs at Burton Bradstock and Charmouth.

She was also very involved with the prison service’s Independent Monitoring Board and set up Eggardon Country Cooks with Shirley to provide home-cooked meals to people isolated at home.

Colleagues of Judi’s at Lyme Bay NCI said: “In so many ways, personal and practical, Judi created a positive meaningful life for herself and worked so hard to improve the lives of others.

“Under her leadership, the NCI Lyme Bay station has grown to support two lookouts, Hive Beach and Charmouth, and to have a thriving supply of new volunteer recruits.

“The work behind the scenes was unceasing and yet, as soon as one challenge was met, she found another improvement to be made or outreach visit to be conducted.

“She knew all her station volunteers, their capabilities, volunteering likes and dislikes and worked with them rather than against them – although she was not above reminding people that uniform was there for a purpose.

“A remarkable, strong woman, a great friend to many and a leader who you somehow thanked for making you work.”