TRIBUTES have been paid to former Western Telegraph chief reporter and Pembrokeshire author Sybil Edwards, who recently passed away following a short illness, aged 90.

Doris Sybil Edwards, of Trefin, died peacefully at the age of 90 on Friday, February 14, with her family at her side.

She leaves behind her sons Andrew and Christopher, grandchildren Michael, Sarah and Francesca, her daughter-in-law Julie, Christopher’s partner Katie and Michael’s wife Hannah.

Sybil was well known throughout Pembrokeshire as journalist, freelance writer, author and charity campaigner who continued her work into her late eighties.

She was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s 2019 New Year’s honours for her selfless work for the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Trust in Pembrokeshire, which she co-founded 40-years-ago and chaired up until her passing.

The medal was presented to Sybil by the Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed Sara Edwards on Friday February 7, just a week before she died.

Son Andrew, speaking on behalf of the family said: “We are all so proud of her. She deserved the recognition from the Queen and was in absolutely sparkling form for the presentation.

“Sadly her condition deteriorated soon after the ceremony and she passed away at my brother’s home in St David’s, where she had been cared for so beautifully by Chris and Katie in her final weeks, supported by family members and her dearest friends Marion John and Alan and Beth Robinson. She had her two boys by her side.

“Her passing was terribly sad, but she had a life that was totally fulfilled, and she left nothing undone. None of us will forget the fabulous occasion when she was presented with her BEM award and the sheer joy she had from being surrounded by the people closest to her.

“She had lived her life to the full, and was always on the go doing something, whether it was her work, the CF branch or plotting foreign travel to visit such places as the Great Wall of China or Santorini.

“She supported the arts, both locally and nationally, with opera being one of her greatest loves. A visit to the Royal Opera House in Covent garden was an annual must in her diary.”

Sybil was the driving force behind the CF Trust in Pembrokeshire and, following its launch, more local cases were diagnosed and the branch developed into a family of parents, grandparents and caring friends and the relatively small branch set about fundraising with considerable vigour.

The trust also campaigned successfully for a better deal for patients.

The attention of the Health Authority was drawn to the number of CF patients in the county, resulting in significant improvements to the local service.

Sybil became a familiar sight shaking tins under peoples’ noses outside supermarkets, car parks and at local events, or organising strawberry fairs and raffles.

She had the energy, commitment and drive to join in many of the major fundraising events herself.

These included a sponsored abseil down the side of Haverfordwest Castle, numerous sponsored walks ... and a sponsored trek up Snowdon when she was in her mid 80s. The branch has raised more than £140,000 in the process.

Born in Hove, Sussex, Sybil moved to Pembrokeshire with her family after her father Joseph Longstaff took up a Customs and Excise post in the county.

Her father died when Sybil was only 12 and she was living with her mother Madeline on the New Road in Haverfordwest when she started work as a junior reporter on the Western Telegraph as soon as she left school.

She became a district reporter, looking after the Milford Haven patch, and using the buses to travel around as she picked up news stories, obituaries, wedding reports and the all-important shipping movements and fishing reports from the docks.

It was during this time that she met husband, David, and the couple were married at Uzmaston before moving to Hertfordshire, through his work with British Petroleum.

They began a family, having two sons, Andrew and Christopher. Sybil balanced work and life, continuing in her career as a highly respected journalist on the Herts and Essex Observer weekly newspaper in Bishop's Stortford.

She and David moved back to Pembrokeshire after the children grew up, and Sybil resumed her career on the Western Telegraph, this time as its chief reporter.

She left the Telegraph following the death of David in 1983, but continued her writing as a self-employed freelancer, launching her own business, Sybil Edwards Publicity.

She went on to co-launch a brand-new magazine for the county with local artist Jim McBrearty, providing a publication with in-depth content focusing on Pembokeshire past and present with a courageous and independent voice.

She and Jim were later to marry and grew the magazine - distributing it themselves across the county.

Charity work with Cystic Fibrosis continued to dominate Sybil's life after Jim passed away, but she still had time for her writing and in 2001 and 2009 respectively the two editions of her locally-acclaimed book, the Story of the Milford Haven Waterway were published.

They followed publication of her book Haverfordwest in Old Picture Postcards, released in 1997.

In the following years Sybil continued to represent local businesses and artists doing their PR work and gaining valuable exposure for her clients.

At the same time family remained at the centre of her life and she was extremely proud to see the careers of her sons develop – Andrew as a journalist and Christopher as a senior engineer and project manager.

She also took delight in seeing her grandchildren progress, with Michael, a vicar, becoming a youth minister in Worcestershire, Sarah a nurse at the Christie cancer hospital in Manchester, and Fran a strategic Project Co-ordinator at the University of Manchester.

Five years ago she was diagnosed first with breast cancer and then with lung cancer in the space of six months.

But she faced both with her incredible strength and determination and won the biggest fight of her life, returning to better health, and to her charity work with the Trust.

Despite her own health issues Sybil continued to put the families of CF patients first.

She would make a point of visiting and staying in touch with parents following the loss of a son or daughter to the condition, making sure they felt loved and supported.

Her diary was organised to ensure that no anniversary passed without her personally contacting the families involved.

She arranged St David's cathedral memorial services to remember those who had died, lighting a candle for each individual at a special family occasion.

Behind the scenes she would constantly be examining, through leading the branch, the 'what next' for the charity, the CF families, and the most important item on the agenda - the quest for the cure.

February 2018 to February 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the CF branch, which she still chairs today.

She couldn't pass up on an opportunity to further raise awareness of the condition and launched a special 40th anniversary fundraising campaign, in partnership with the Telegraph, which raised £23,000.

Last year was a fitting celebration for Sybil, marking the trust’s 40th anniversary, her 90th birthday, and the announcement of her award in the New Year’s Honours.

Her funeral takes place at 1pm on Monday, March 2, at Uzmaston Church, Haverfordwest.

The family have requested no black ties and family flowers only.

Enquiries and donations, if so gifted, in aid of Cystic Fibrosis: C/O W G Bernard Mathias and Daughter, 62 New Road, St. David’s, SA62 6SU. Tel: 01437 720537.