Tributes have been paid to Britain’s youngest councillor following her death at the age of 21.
Clarissa Slade, who was just 18 when she was elected as a Conservative councillor for Mid Devon District Council in 2015, was found dead at her flat in Winchester on Monday.
Hampshire Police say the death of Miss Slade, a student at the University of Winchester, is being treated as ‘unexplained’.
Her father Colin Slade, who is also a Conservative councillor in Devon along with Miss Slade’s mother Elizabeth, said the family were ‘still pretty much in the dark’ as to the circumstances.
Mr Slade told the Daily Telegraph: ‘It is such a shock. She was due to come back to visit and the first thing we knew was when she was not on the train.
‘She had a bright future ahead, she was very keen on politics and she was a very bright young councillor, the youngest in the country when she was elected.
‘She was looking to possibly pursue a career in politics.’
He added that the family was waiting for information from the coroner regarding the cause of Miss Slade’s death.
Miss Slade was a student at the University of Winchester, having been offered a place to read Classical Studies in 2015.
She told the council at the time that she had “no intention” of resigning and that she “remained committed” to serving the people of her ward.
Stephen Walford, chief executive of Mid Devon District Council, said: ‘This is clearly a great shock to everyone at the council and will affect all those who worked with Clarissa and the community she served.
‘Clarissa’s parents, who are both serving councillors here at Mid Devon, will be devastated by this news and we will be supporting them in any way we can.’
He said a book of condolence would be opened at Phoenix House, the main office of the council.
Leader of the council Clive Eginton said: ‘The devastating news regarding the sudden passing of Cllr Clarissa Slade has been deeply felt by myself, fellow councillors and officers across the council.
‘On the national stage she had also made her mark with her involvement in youth politics.
‘Clarissa had an endearing personality to all those who knew her well, and we will miss her enormously.
‘Our thoughts at this time are with Clarissa’s parents Colin and Elizabeth.’
MPs from the area also paid tribute to Miss Slade.
Kevin Foster, Conservative MP for Torbay, tweeted: ‘Shocked and deeply saddened to read of Clarissa’s death at only 21. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.’
North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones tweeted: ‘My sincere condolences to Colin & Elizabeth.
‘Colin was my agent & campaign manager in #NDevon prior to the 2015 election. I knew Clarissa well. She was hardworking and always so upbeat, and had a bright future. Such a sad day.’
A spokeswoman for Hampshire Police said: ‘Officers were called to an address in Thurmond Crescent, Winchester, on the afternoon of Monday, March 26 after the body of a 21-year-old woman was found.’
‘We are deeply saddened by her death and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this difficult time,’ a University of Winchester spokeswoman said.