FORMER Welsh secretary Dame Cheryl Gillan has passed away at the age of 68 after a lengthy illness, the Conservative Party has confirmed.

The prime minister said the former cabinet minister would be "sorely missed" and described her as a "great servant".

"I'm very sad to hear the news of the death of Dame Cheryl Gillan," said Boris Johnson.

"She was a great servant to the people of Chesham and Amersham, to the Conservative Party and to the country as secretary of state for Wales.

"Always full of wise advice and good humour, she was much loved on all sides of the House of Commons and will be sorely missed.

"My sincere condolences to her family and friends."

Amanda Milling said the noted anti-HS2 campaigner had made a "huge contribution to public life".

"It was incredibly sad to hear that Dame Cheryl Gillan MP passed away at the weekend," said Ms Milling.

"Cheryl had been ill for some time, but battled her illness with great stoicism and grace.

"Cheryl was a dedicated parliamentarian for many decades, serving in the Cabinet and she made a huge contribution to public life and our Party.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Cheryl's family and friends."

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said he was "desperately saddened" by the news.

"Cheryl was a model of public service and was respected across the political spectrum," he said.

"She was incredibly proud of her Welsh roots and served with distinction as secretary of state.

"Cherly was a good friend to the Welsh Conservatives and will be sorely missed.

"On behalf of my colleagues, I send our thoughts and condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time."

Labour MS for Bridgend, and former first minister, Carwyn Jones in a social media post said:

"Very sorry to hear of Cheryl's passing. We had our disagreements but she was great fun and had a mischievous sense of humour. My thoughts are very much with her family."

Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price tweeted:

“So sad to hear Cheryl Gillan has passed away.  I got to know Cheryl quite well during my time at Westminster. She had a generosity of spirit, a great sense of fun - and of duty to the public.  She was particularly proud of her Welsh roots.  My thoughts are with family and friends."