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Obituary: Camden’s first black mayor, Jerry Williams

PUBLISHED: 18:08 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:12 11 September 2017

Jerry with his three daughters (from left) Claudette, Evamae and Angela Picture: Roger Beale

Jerry with his three daughters (from left) Claudette, Evamae and Angela Picture: Roger Beale

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Jerry Williams, who passed away on August 27 at the age of 93 created history when he became Camden’s first black mayor in 1988.

A young Jerry Williams. Picture: Roger BealeA young Jerry Williams. Picture: Roger Beale

Mr Williams, who lived in Camden for more than 50 years, was also instrumental in the campaign to create the Talacre Open Space in Kentish Town, the 1975 opening of which he described as “the happiest day of my life”.

He was responsible for turning a wasteland into a prosperous, which is now a park and has a thriving sports and community centre.

His daughter, Angela Beale, says when be became the mayor, it was the “icing on the cake for him”.

“I’m so proud of what dad achieved. When he became mayor, it felt like ‘we accept you’.

Jerry campaigning. Picture: Roger BealeJerry campaigning. Picture: Roger Beale

“My dad helped lots of people with their housing problems and needs. He was there for everyone.”

The current mayor of Camden, Richard Cotton has also paid tribute to the late Mr Williams.

“So sad to to hear of the death of Jerry Williams who was Camden’s first black mayor and one of the most popular in the history of this borough. I had known him for many years due to mutual friends in Brent, where i used to work.

Like many Commonwealth citizens, Jerry came to Britain in 1956 from Barbados to help re-build the UK after the ravages of war. That generation had to cope with a cold climate and an often cold reception in a country in which racial prejudice was rife. But they tackled the discrimination head on and made a massive contribution to this country,

Jerry Williams as mayor with wife Eileen Picture: Roger BealeJerry Williams as mayor with wife Eileen Picture: Roger Beale

Jerry certainly made a massive contribution to Camden and the Talacre Open Space is a lasting memorial to his efforts. He was a lifelong Labour party member and a lifelong trade unionist. He was determined, friendly and fun-loving and he always had a twinkle in his eye. I had only seen him a few weeks ago at a meeting of the London Labour Mayors’ Association (founded by Clem Attlee just a few years before Jerry was born) so it has come as a shock to know that we won’t be seeing him again. He will be remembered with love and affection by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

May light perpetual shine upon him. RIP Jerry.”

The funeral for Jerry Williams will take place at St Martin’s church, Gospel Oak on September 13, at 11am.

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