Monday, October 15, 2012

Councillor Helen Morrissey

My friend and colleague, Cllr Helen Morrissey, one of the councillors for East Walworth ward since May 2010, died on Friday night after battling cancer over the past year.

Helen had been Chief Whip of the Labour Group since May 2011 and was the first woman to hold that post for at least 20 years.  She brought great humour and firmness to the role - she loved being involved in the politics and machinery of the council's decision-making process.

Helen stood unsuccessfully for election to the council in 2006 in East Dulwich ward.  She was disappointed not to have been elected in her home ward at that time, but threw herself with even greater commitment into the campaign in East Walworth in 2010 with her colleagues Martin Seaton and Darren Merrill.  The look of joy on her face when she won her seat was only surpassed by the absolute pride she felt in being a Southwark councillor.  She really believed in the importance and value of local government, and particularly in what Labour is delivering in Southwark.

Helen had suffered with an arthritic condition for many years, which sometimes meant that she was slower getting around.  But she always used this to her advantage - relishing the fact that some people underestimated her political acumen.  She was also a great cat lover - having given a home to many cats during her life.

She was a very funny person and could dissect a person or an argument with a real but warm wit.  Helen was liked and respected by people right across the political spectrum.  If she gave you her word it would always be kept.

Helen was absolutely committed to equalities and argued strongly for the rights of all those who were from a minority group or suffered with a disability.

She will be greatly missed by me and all of her colleagues in Southwark Labour.

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