BARONESS Masham, a Paralympian and the longest-serving female member of the House of Lords ever, has died peacefully aged 87.
Lady Masha, born Susan Sinclair, won medals in swimming and table tennis at the 1960, 1964 and 1968 Paralympic games before being created a life peer in 1970.
The well-loved Paralympian spent much of her career campaigning for disability rights.
She sat as a crossbencher and spent a total of 53 years in the House of Lords, more than any other female peer in history.
The Spinal Injuries Association, which she founded in 1974, said it was "devastated to have lost our greatest champion".
She died peacefully in hospital in Northallerton, Yorkshire, on Sunday, it said.
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Lady Masham became a wheelchair user after suffering an injury to her spinal cord in a riding accident in 1958.
Two years later, she won a gold medal in the 25m breaststroke at the Paralympic games in Rome, and in 1964 won another in the women's doubles table tennis in Tokyo.
She won a further six silver medals and two bronze across both sports in the three games at which she competed.
In 1976, she was the subject of an episode of This Is Your Life.
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She set up the Spinal Injuries Association to address a lack of specialist care or advice available to newly injured people and served as its president until her death.
The association described Lady Masham as "the reason we have been able to champion, fight, serve and support thousands of spinal cord injured people ever since".
A statement read: "We are extremely sad to announce that our founder and life-long president, Baroness Sue Masham of Ilton, passed away peacefully at Northallerton Hospital on Sunday 12 March.
"It goes without saying that everybody at the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) is devastated to have lost our greatest champion.
"Our condolences go to her family at this sad time."
While the Paralympics GB website describes Baroness Masham as "one of Great Britain's first ever Paralympic medallists" and a "pioneering athlete".
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