Croydon Labour representative Steve Reed MP remembers Councillor Maggie Mansell who passed away earlier this month.
It came like a thunderbolt – a call to say Maggie Mansell had suddenly passed away a week after New Year. Maggie served as a councillor for Norbury for nearly 25 years, and was one of the hardest-working councillors in the borough.
Maggie first got involved in local politics in the 1980s. She was the first-ever Labour candidate to win a seat in Norbury where she lived, and was proud to serve as Mayor of Croydon in 2005-6. For Maggie, politics was never about titles or position, it was all about helping others. She campaigned throughout her life against inequality, injustice and unfairness. Her greatest passions were Norbury and the NHS where she once worked as a scientist.
For Norbury residents, Councillor Mansell was a familiar sight. Whether it was campaigning on the doorsteps, pushing leaflets through the letterbox or speaking at residents’ meetings, Maggie was always there. She spoke up for investment in the high street, action against fly tipping, more police, less litter. If you wanted to know what was going on in Norbury, Maggie was your person.
She was chair of governors at Norbury Manor Primary School right up until her death, and was rightly proud of the praise lavished on the school in its most recent inspection. Close by, Freeman Court is a care home for older and disabled people, and Maggie was a familiar visitor there, having tea with the residents, making sure they were all looked after properly, listening to their concerns. Young or old – Maggie was there for you.
Despite reaching her mid-70s, Maggie never slowed down. She looked as fit as a fiddle when I joined her just before Christmas to campaign against firearms on Norbury’s streets. Neither I nor the residents who were with us could have dreamed that was the last time we’d see her. She was spotted in the town hall the weekend before she died, diligently chasing up case work on issues raised by local residents. Maggie kept on fighting for her community right up to the very end.
Maggie’s loss is sudden and shocking, but she achieved something truly important – she leaves the world a better place than she found it. Maggie carried a flame of hope and held it high, now those she leaves behind must take that light forward.