Tributes to ‘kind and wonderful’ Hertsmere mayor after death just months into first citizen role
PUBLISHED: 10:04 15 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:26 15 September 2020
Hertsmere Borough Council members and staff have expressed deep sadness at the death of mayor Cynthia Barker, following a period of illness.
Councillor Barker was appointed in June this year, having served as deputy mayor last year, and had been a borough councillor for Borehamwood’s Kenilworth ward since 2015.
As the first Philippines-born elected representative in the borough, she was extremely proud of her heritage and committed to doing her utmost to champion equality and diversity for all the communities in Hertsmere. She was also chosen as one of the 100 most influential Filipinas by the Filipina Women’s Network.
Leader Cllr Morris Bright said: “I knew Cynthia as both a colleague and friend. Nothing was ever too much for her. She thrived at being a local councillor, always wanting to help residents with their issues. She left a lasting impression on the council and Borehamwood.
“We are all struggling to take in the sad news at the moment but I am sure we will all remember Cynthia as a kind, wonderful person who was a hard working community representative. My thoughts and prayers go out to Cynthia’s family and friends.”
Managing director Sajida Bijle added: “My sincere condolences, on behalf of all the staff at Hertsmere Borough Council, are extended to Cynthia’s family and friends. I know how honoured she was to be appointed to deputy mayor last year and then as mayor, and how much she enjoyed undertaking a whole host of duties across our communities. She will be greatly missed by us all.”
Cllr Jeremy Newmark, leader of the Labour group, added: “It was a privilege to have known and worked with Cynthia. She was a trailblazer and role model for women and minorities in local government. Cynthia was kind and supportive to me personally when I was first elected as a councillor, despite being on opposite sides of the political divide.
“She brought grace and dignity to the office of Mayor but was always approachable and down to earth, particularly when engaging with children and young people. Her commitment to charitable causes, notably the NSPCC and the Rotary Club, was relentless. May her memory continue to inspire us all.”
HBC Liberal Democrats leader Cllr Andrew Melville said: “The news is very sad about our dear friend Cynthia. I would just like to say how kind and friendly she was. She will be remembered for her warm heart and kindness towards her fellow councillors. I wish to pass on my deepest condolences to her family and friends at this extremely difficult time. May she rest in peace.”
Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden also expressed his sadness and loss and sent condolences to her family and friends.
Mr Dowden added: “I rarely attended a community event where she was not getting stuck in. And at a national level, her tireless advocacy for the Filipino community helped put them on the map, not least as the country’s first Filipina Mayor.
“Cynthia was a generous, warm, and kind hearted person at the centre of our community life in Hertsmere. She was a vigorous political campaigner who helped me enormously but she also had a genuine passion for serving local people.”
The council’s flag has been flying at half-mast outside civic offices as a mark of respect.
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