Ms Mowlam received an honorary degree at Teesside University
Friends and colleagues of former Redcar MP and ex-minister Mo Mowlam have paid tribute to her following her death at the age of 55.
MP Stuart Bell, who represents Middlesbrough, described her as "a lioness and stateswoman".
Redcar and Cleveland Council's mayor, Peter Spencer, said people had the "utmost respect" for her qualities.
Vera Baird, who took over as Redcar MP, described her as a "slightly wacky elder sister" and "huge friend".
Ms Mowlam was Labour MP for Redcar between 1987 and 2001.
Vera Baird said: "She was like a slightly wacky older sister to many people, a huge friend and a fantastic advocate for Redcar.
"Mo was a fantastic act to follow and laid a lot of foundations for me to build on.
"She ploughed a furrow for women, she was a strong feisty woman, so after her who could then question the ability of women in public life?"
Ms Mowlam's former personal assistant in Redcar, Kath Taylor, said: "She was not always easy to work for, but she was never dull.
"Mo was always up for anything and often I used to stand on her foot to stop her saying things, because sometimes she didn't always have the best judgement in what she said. But perhaps sometimes it needed saying.
"I remember her in a posh shop buying clothes for Question Time and laughing herself silly at all the pretentious women in there who completely changed their attitude when they discovered she was famous."
Professor Graham Henderson, University of Teesside's vice-chancellor, said: "All of us at the University of Teesside are desperately sorry to hear of the loss of Mo Mowlam.
"Mo was a huge friend of our university, one of our most distinguished honorary graduates and our deepest sympathy goes to her family."
Mo Mowlam was at ease with the rich and famous
Ms Mowlam was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the university in 1998, where she became the first woman to be awarded freedom of the borough.
Redcar and Cleveland Council mayor Peter Spencer said: "We were proud to confer the freedom of the borough upon Mo in 1998 and she will remain in the borough's hearts forever. A truly exceptional lady."
The chair of Cleveland Police Authority, Dave McLuckie, said: "I knew Mo Mowlam as a politician of enormous enthusiasm, commitment and talent.
"Even though she faced tremendous pressures and very real personal danger, especially during her time as Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo never forgot the people of Redcar and I am sure they will never forget her."
Middlesbrough Labour MP Stuart Bell said: Mo was a lioness both in terms of the Labour Party and politics nationally.
"She cut to the quick with any issue and proved herself a stateswoman of the highest order when seeking to negotiate the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement.
"Margaret, my wife, and I will remember her many kindnesses and courtesies with her husband Jon in their Redcar home."