HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a "kind and very supportive" charity co-director who died after battling cancer.

Deborah Jones, co-director of Craft Coop CIC, died at the Thames Hospice, in Maidenhead, on Wednesday, June 22 with her husband and children by her side.

Born in llinois (USA), Deborah was a well-known and much appreciated resident of Maidenhead where she worked alongside Teresa Mills to run the charity, Craft Coop, which has branches in Windsor, Maidenhead and previously Slough.

She taught English in Japan for eight years and also taught it as a second language to Maidenhead families prior to joining Craft Coop.  

The charity, founded in 2009, has become an award-winning series of shops which support local craft artists and their handmade products.

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In addition to the shops' activities, Deborah was also actively involved in raising charities in the community, supporting Maidenhead United FC's charity drive, the Brett Foundation, Windsor Homeless Project, Baby Bank and most recently Ukraine DEC.

Hundreds of people expressed their condolences across social media for Deborah’s family, Teresa and the Craft Coop community.

Heidi Berry, manager of Craft Coop Windsor, said: “I shall forever be grateful to Deborah for her faith and vision to open the Windsor shop.

“In the year since we have been open, it has become a central point for locals and craft-lovers alike, with workshops, fundraisers and even just a friendly place to come and chat.

“Through her work, Deborah has bought like-minded people together and leaves a great legacy that we shall do our best to honour and continue.

“Thank you for everything Deborah.”

Slough Observer: Deborah with fellow coopers in one of the shops. Picture: Craft CoopDeborah with fellow coopers in one of the shops. Picture: Craft Coop

Naida Maskell, of Wild Bloom Beads, said: “Deborah was creative, visionary, kind and very supportive of local crafters and artists. She has certainly made a big impact on my life, I am deeply sad of this loss and I will remember her."

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June Kerr, or Starfish Enterprise, said: “Crafting can sometimes be a very lonely past time, spending solitary hours in the zone honing your art.

“Deborah had a vision of how to bring us together, a place to meet, interact with fellow creatives, swap tips, sell our wares and form a wonderful community within the local community.”

Ms Kerr added Deborah did this several times with “grace, humour and a lot of hard work”.

She said: “Words cannot express how much she will be missed by us all, she was a remarkable woman and her passing has left a Deborah-shaped hole in the Craft Coop that will never be filled.” 

And Denby and Christine Richards, of D&C Productions, added: “Deborah Jones and co-director Teressa Mills had a brilliant idea to establish spaces for local artists and craftspeople to display their work and share their skills.

“As two people who have benefitted from this we feel it is a wonderful model for a creative community."