Councillors pay tribute to former Camden mayor Judy Pattison after she dies aged 70
'She was fun - and livened us all up'
23 November, 2020 — By Richard Osley
Former mayor Judith Pattison
COUNCILLORS have held a minute’s silence this evening (Monday) to remember former mayor of Camden Judy Pattison, who has died aged 70.
She had been the borough’s first citizen between 2002-03 and served as a councillor at different times in Belsize, Gospel Oak and Cantelowes wards. After moving out of Camden, she won election as a councillor in Exeter two years ago. It was announced that she had passed away in October.
Town Hall deputy leader Councillor Pat Callaghan told tonight’s full council meeting, held using videocall technology: “She held a variety of voluntary posts, working with people of all ages and backgrounds, believing that everyone has something important to contribute to their community. How right she was.”
She added: “She was the first mayor to invite student reps into the parlour to learn more about the borough and promote her theme of volunteering. This was much appreciated by the students and built up a good relationship with the colleges.
“Judy also wanted to make contact with the groups in Camden who traditionally did not normally have contact with the mayor. She did this by opening up the parlour and inviting in a wide range of diverse groups from across the borough. This was a great success and we continue to work in this consensual way today. Judy, thank you for your commitment to highlighting the social value of volunteering. Thank you for your friendship. And thank you for being you. Rest in peace.”
Cllr Callaghan had explained how Ms Pattison had worked as a business studies lecturer in several colleges in north London.
Ms Pattison had partly been the inspiration for the classic children’s story Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler, written by her mother, Gene Kemp, the award-winning author.
Liberal Democrat councillor Flick Rea, the longest continuous serving councillor at the Town Hall, said: “Judy was fun. She was unconventional, she was charming, she was interested in people. She was a fun councillor and she was also a fun Mayor – and she was also one of the tiniest mayors we’ve ever had and so the mayoral robes had to be shortened quite dramatically for Judy.
“She then threw the mayor’s office into total confusion by insisting that she would not have a mayoress and that she would actually do something very unconventional and she would have a huge number of escorts which would be from all the female members of the council, whatever party they came from.”
“She took different councillors to different events, and that also has become a tradition now that the mayor doesn’t just have one escort but it has a number of them and some of them are usually other councillors. However, I think nobody but Judy would have dared to invite councillors from opposition parties to escort her – possibly because she wasn’t afraid of what we might do. I suspect the subsequent mayors have always been terrified that opposition councillors would say something quite dreadful, and let the borough down – but Judy had no qualms about inviting us to come.”
Cllr Rea added: “She was also very good at going to residents associations’ annual general meetings, which can be can be very tedious. She actually turned up at lots of them and had a fairly good time. She was very sociable, and she enjoyed the whole panoply of social conversation and having a drink with people and getting on with them and chatting. She was a character and I think we probably need more characters like Judy. We’ve probably all got rather boring and Judy livened us all up, so I remember her with great joy.”
Conservative councillor Steve Adams said she had not met Ms Pattison but noted her record in public office had continued as a councillor in Exeter.
“This council is and has been made up of people willing and eager to help others improve the government of the borough no matter which political position,” he said.
“That she made this endeavour her life’s work is truly impressive. Her dedication to the Labour cause was notable. Such a contribution to public good should and must be remembered and celebrated.”