TRIBUTES have been paid to a community 'legend' who has passed away.

Hazel Axe, a well-known former teacher and community activist, died peacefully at Crewkerne Hospital on July 9.

Since her passing, tributes have poured in for the popular 82-year-old.

Ms Axe was a former chairperson for the Crewkerne and District U3A group - and is described as someone who was always willing to lend a hand.

She led the group in 2003-04, but stood down for health reasons.

Years later, she took up the post again for another year from 2009.

During her leadership, she ran groups such as skittles, bridge, and scrabble.

Val Warren, another former chairperson of the group, says she remembers Hazel as someone always 'working in the background'.

If a group was unable to find a leader, Hazel would lend her experience to the cause while a new leader was sought after.

Hazel was also a popular teacher at Maiden Beech School.

Mrs Warren said: "“I remember being on Henhayes playing field with her.

"We were at an event where the U3A was exhibiting and lots of young people came up to her for a hug.

"She was well loved.”

Val was taken to her first meeting of the Avalon network of U3As in South Somerset by Hazel – Val has since become Avalon’s network co-ordinator – and they went together to a U3A national conference.

Anne Bright, another former chairperson, said Hazel was a 'legend' in the U3A.

She added: "“Hazel was always encouraging and patient with beginners, and thanks to her skilful teaching, they soon became proficient. What people remember is that her groups were full of bonhomie and banter.”

Current chairperson of the Crewkerne U3A, Sheila Seymour, said: "To have been a long term group leader, committee member and chair, and be so well thought of, she must have been quite a lady.

"My condolences to her family and friends."