Tributes have been paid to “true Stroud legend and fearless” former SNJ reporter Jo Barber who has died at the age of 71.

Jo, who went to Stroud High School, started her career in journalism as an apprentice at the Stroud News and Journal and worked there from 1972 to 1975 before moving to The Citizen until she retired in 2014.

She was based firstly in the Stroud district office in Gloucester Street, then the High Street office from around 2006.

Jo then worked for Stroud Life which was based in that office in the High Street from 2007 until the office closed in 2016. Stroud Life closed in 2017.

During her career she got an exclusive interview with Princess Anne because she had the same hairdresser as a member of her staff. And Princess Anne was said to trust her.

After retiring from journalism she went on to be clerk of Minchinhampton and Standish parish councils.

Former Stroud Life editor Ben Falconer said Jo abided by firm journalistic principles of fairness, accountability and impartiality.

Jo put the communities of Stroud first. “She wasn’t afraid to upset someone in the course of her work, and she did not suffer fools gladly,” he said.

“She was passionate about the difference she could make and picked up on community campaigns and championed them many times.

“I will miss her and her brilliant anecdotes built up over a career in local news.

“My thoughts are with her daughters Grace and Holly and step daughter Charlotte, of whom she was very proud.”

Vicky Temple, former Stroud Life news editor, said Jo was a fantastic news reporter and a good friend.

She first got to know her while attending daily press briefings at Stroud police station and learnt the ropes of reporting from her.

“She was a formidable and fearless journalist who reported on the successes and struggles of all corners of the Stroud community with professionalism, integrity and humanity.

“She had an amazing knowledge of Stroud and its diverse people, whether that was royalty or its community heroes.

“Whenever I was reporting on an issue, Jo was always my first port of call for the ‘lowdown’ and I learnt so much from her.

She was good fun and a great colleague and it was a pleasure and a privilege to work with her. I’ll miss her very much.”

Simon Pizzey, who worked with Jo as a photographer for 25 years on The Citizen and Stroud Life, remained close friends with her after she retired from journalism in 2014.

“I’ve lost count of how many tragic murders, cold door stops, funerals Jo and I attended as journalist and photographer,” he said.

“Add in the Royal visits, vox pops, fetes, and other events. I remember my first job with Jo was covering the Badminton horse trials.

“Jo was the consummate professional local journalist. Her reputation was built on respect, authenticity and honesty.

“A natural born journalist, she genuinely believed that being properly informed was the cornerstone of a just society and a fair democracy.

“Jo was fascinated by and cared about the people in her community.

“Throughout most of her career she was also a lone parent balancing the demands of motherhood with a challenging job. She loved Stroud, particularly the commons and roaming cattle.

“As a friend she made me laugh and was always there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on. I will miss her terribly.”

Jenny Eastwood, Jo’s former editor and news editor at The Citizen, said she was such a hardworking journalist and advocate for her community in Stroud.

“She was a real no-nonsense journalist but that wasn’t at the expense of a huge amount of passion and heart for her community and her job and of course her family.

“My thoughts are with her family at this difficult time, she will be missed. She was a true Stroud legend.”

Graham Gardner, Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner media and communications manager, met Jo on his very first day in journalism some 50 years ago.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said.

“We almost collided as she came out of the Stroud News and Journal office as I was going in for the first time.

“‘Hi, I’m Jo’, she said, a warm and friendly welcome for a nervous newbie. We went on to work together on the SNJ and the Citizen for several years – she once loaned me her press pass so I could get a girlfriend into a Queen gig in Cardiff.

“Jo was a conscientious reporter who dedicated her professional life to Stroud. People spoke to her because they could trust her.

“She had a smile and bubbly personality that added to the gaiety of every newsroom we worked in.”

Jo died on June 27.