Thursday, February 03, 2011

Remembering Sheila Draper

This morning I heard the awful news that Sheila Draper, Labour Party stalwart in Mitcham and Morden, but also Mayoress of Merton from 2009-10 and husband of my Merton Council colleague Nick Draper had passed away.

Although she had been ill of late, this was a bolt from the blue. I considered Sheila to be good friend and I mourn her loss deeply. My most abiding memory of her was the night of Wednesday 13 May 2009, it was the night that I stood down as Mayor of Merton. Who was to succeed as the next mayor was a matter of great debate at the time as Merton Council was evenly divided, with 30 votes for the Conservative nominee, Cllr Gilli Lewis Lavender and the same number for the Labour nominee, Nick Draper. It required every Labour councillor to attend the meeting(which thankfully they did) and for the casting vote to be cast by myself as the outgoing mayor in the event that the votes were equal(and they where). After a nerve wracking roll call, Nick Draper became Mayor of Merton, it was sheer relief to us all as it was a tough battle to ensure Nick was elected.

In the corridor outside the chamber, I met Sheila, because she was so nervous and thought Nick would lose she wasn't planning to attend. However, at the last minute she changed her mind and attended. I remember hugging her in jubilation in the corridor, it was so emotive and the relief on all of us that Nick had been elected was palpable. I'm so pleased looking back that she had the opportunity to serve as Mayoress, and I know Nick wanted to become Mayor as much for Sheila as for himself, it was decision that changed her life.

Her year as Mayoress to Nick was an amazing time, she was a great ambassador to the borough, but also helped Nick raise over £50,000 for his chosen charities. Nick and Sheila made a great mayoral team and made a huge contribution to Merton during their time as Mayor and Mayoress, but also in the events they organised. I will never forget the Elvis tribute night which was a fantastic fundraiser as Sheila was one of Elvis's biggest fans. It certainly was one of the liveliest ever mayoral events, and it was all put together by Sheila.

Sheila reached out to all parts of Merton, sometimes civic office and the bling gives some individuals airs and graces, but through it all Sheila remained a down to earth person who performed the role admirably.

I am so pleased that she had the opportunity of being the Mayoress last year, and for the work she undertook during that year along with her support to Nick.

The Labour Party will also miss her deeply, she was treasurer of Mitcham and Morden and helped keep the accounts in order. She was also a great socialist, probably slightly old Labour, but very loyal to the values of the party.

I will miss Sheila greatly and my deepest sympathies and condolences go to your husband Nick, and to your children Gregory, Anthony and Caroline.Your memory lives on for many of us.

May you rest in peace.


Anonymous Tracey Paul said...

Dear Martin

What a lovely tribute.

Today has been very hard, but remembering how much fun we have all had together over the years has made it a little easier.

Tonight, I am thinking of everyone who loved and admired Sheila.


10:19 pm  
Anonymous Lisa Courtney said...

I knew the Draper family through primary school, we had two children the same age, what a shock, Sheila was one of the nicest 'Mum's' I ever met.
Rest in peace Sheila, may God look after your family at this difficult time.

1:25 pm  

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