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Sybil stayed true to her belief in compassion and comradeship

Party is held in memory of former Camden councillor who left all her worldly wealth to a charity

15 March, 2018 — By John Gulliver

Sybil Shine: A stickler for Labour values

SHE was never awarded any honours. No ermine ever touched her shoulders. Sybil Shine tiptoed about her business as a Camden councillor modestly and almost shyly.

She spoke rarely in the council chamber. She had one of the most perceptive minds on the council in the late 1980s and 1990s though she clothed it with an engaging air of uncertainty.

But she was a stickler for her beliefs and the Labour whip at the Town Hall found her a handful.

As for her constituents, the people of Somers Town admired her – and kept on voting for her.

Well, my admiration for her leapt even higher when I learned the other day that she has left all her worldly wealth to a charity.

A great many politicians pour out rhetoric about the values they believe in, and you can’t help but believe they don’t really mean a word of it.

But Sybil did. She talked about Labour values of compassion and comradeship – and meant it.

She lived her life according to her beliefs. She studied at the London School of Economics and, drawn towards town planning, she would always urge architects, builders and planners to co-operate holistically on all their projects.

She lived in a maisonette in a grand listed building in Regent’s Park Road, facing Primrose Hill, a property that would be worth a considerable sum.

And I have learned that she has left her “estate” to a charity trust set up in her name – the Sybil Shine Memorial Trust.

Sybil divorced her husband after a brief period. She leaves a sister and a nephew and niece.

A party in memory of Sybil, hosted by Central & Cecil Housing Trust in partnership with Primrose Hill Neighbours Help, was held on March 1 at Oldfield estate. Vinyl records were played from Sybil’s own collection as well as albums brought by guests. Above, from left: Ofelia Cadavid, Wanda Nembhard, Claire McQuillan, John Lefley, Robert Ellis-Hawkes, Paul Nye, Martin Shirley, John Swords, Terrence Ford, Patricia Moore at the event

Her own charity trust has absorbed her parents’ charity trust called the Barnett and Sylvia Shine Memorial Trust, according to my sources.

This, too, had a base of considerable funds and made several awards to worthy causes, particularly in Israel.

Barnett “Barney” Shine, an East End clothing worker in the 1930s and war years, began to buy property in London in the mid-and-late 1940s when many owners were fleeing from the Blitz.

By the 50s he had become a wealthy man, thought to be worth millions, with a large flat off Portland Place and a large house by the Thames in Maidenhead.

In his new life as a man of wealth he developed a passion for art and on discovering the painter LS Lowry acquired several of his paintings.

It is quite possible that these became part of Sybil’s household in Regent’s Park Road.

During the 1990s Sybil acquired a holiday property in France which, I believe, is embedded in her estate.

After she stepped down from the council Sybil became a familiar figure in Regent’s Park Road and became friendly to many of the elderly tenants in the sheltered housing Oldfield estate.

The other week many Oldfield residents held a party where they reminisced about “kind and considerate” Sybil who would often stop and chat to them as she went shopping in the “village”.

She died in January at the age of 80.

It is understood Sybil’s Trust has already helped to provide funds for impoverished African immigrants in Israel.

In the late 1980s Sybil’s support for the anti-Apartheid cause led her to visit South Africa and she took an even greater interest after Nelson Mandela came to power in 1991.

She was invited to the new South African embassy to meet Mandela during his state visit to Britain.

A fairly recent disbursement from her charity, I am told, is a sum of money to help fund Sybil’s local Primrose Hill library which is run by volunteers.

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