An artist who became a “major force” in a historic market town and went on to contribute enormously to her community has died.

Sally Hirons, was a long-time resident of Bungay in north Suffolk and has been described as a mover and shaker in the arts and the Greenpeace movement.

Originally from East Anglia, Mrs Hirons returned back to Suffolk from London with her husband, Mike Hirons, who taught science at Diss Grammar School during the 1970s.

After a decade at home raising her children, Tom and Kate, she worked as a social worker in Lowestoft, eventually becoming head of adoption and fostering. Here, she initiated a counselling service for adopted children who wanted to contact their birth parents.

A woman of great energy and a strong sense of public service, she also helped form the Bungay Arts and Theatre Society in 1995 in the belief the area needed an arts centre to help revitalise the town. A then empty Georgian shell, known as the Fisher Theatre, in Broad Street, caught her eye.

It was built in 1828 by David Fisher, the head of the Fisher theatrical family, and a century later became Bungay's first cinema and later a steam laundrette and warehouse.

Mrs Hirons, along with four other like-minded people nicknamed ‘The Famous Five', were determined to get the building restored. A daunting and sometimes overwhelming task, it involved fundraising and applying for grants. The effort was worth it when finally, in 2006, the theatre reopened.

Her name also became inseparably linked with the annual Waveney Greenpeace Fairs held at Hulver Farm in St Michael's in South Elmham for nearly 20 years. A lifelong supporter of green causes, along with a team of volunteers she worked tirelessly to make these fairs a success. The team annually raised £12,000 for Greenpeace.

A talented dressmaker, committed reader, and great lover of opera, Mrs Hirons died from cancer on Thursday, September 22, aged 83. She had moved to Devon with her family who described her as “a warm, vigorous, public-spirited woman”.

She leaves behind her children and grandsons, Orrin and Yosca. A memorial service will be held in Bungay later in the year.