Cllr Sherma Batson MBE DL

09 Jan 2017

Stevenage Borough Councillor and former Mayor Sherma Batson MBE DL sadly died yesterday (Sunday 8 January 2017). She was 59.

Sherma was a ward councillor in Roebuck and the council’s Executive Member for Communities and Equalities. She was also the County Councillor for Broadwater.

During her 12 years as a Stevenage councillor, Sherma had been the Executive Member for Community, Health and Older People, chaired the Community Engagement and Equality and Diversity committees and she also served on Herts Police Authority from 2005 to 2009 as the lead member for Stevenage. She served as Mayor for 2014/15.

Sherma was born in London, and moved to Stevenage with her family at four years old, when her father was offered a job at English Electric and a new house on Chells Way. She married Howard Rooke in 1999, and had a daughter Ahisha and a young grandson.

Sherma worked in a number of community roles over the years. In the mid-1980s, she co-founded an African Women’s Theatre Company that toured extensively in London and ran workshops in community centres. It was realising that she wanted to do more work in the community that made Sherma give up her full-time employment to manage the Stevenage Recycling Scheme and co-found Stevenage World Forum in the late 1990s.

Sherma devoted much of her time to the voluntary and community sector, helping raise hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding for local charities. Her dedication and commitment to making a difference in the county were recognised in June 2008, when she was awarded an MBE. The following year, she was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Hertfordshire.

Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said, “This is heartbreaking news. Sherma was, quite simply, unique and incredible. She was one of our town’s most passionate and hard-working councillors, and it’s been an absolute honour to work alongside her. I’ve been fortunate in being able to call her a friend since we were children at Camps Hill School and later the Girls Grammar School together.

“Sherma was a force of positive energy, never more so than when she was fighting for equalities and the rights of those more vulnerable members of our community. She invested much of her time in helping make Stevenage a place where people live side-by-side respecting, welcoming and celebrating each other’s culture, religion and race.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Howard, Ahisha, her grandson Malakai, mum Yvonne and all her family and friends.”

The Mayor of Stevenage, Cllr John Lloyd, said, “I was shocked and saddened to hear the news that Sherma had died suddenly over the weekend. My thoughts are currently with Howard and her family. Sherma was a hard working councillor who was well known and respected for her dedication and support for the people who she represented both as a County Councillor in the Broadwater Division and as a Borough Councillor for Roebuck Ward.”

Cllr James Fraser, Leader of the Conservatives at Stevenage Borough Council, said, “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the news. Sherma was a lovely councillor who was greatly respected and always willing to help others. Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.”

Cllr Robin Parker, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stevenage Borough Council, said, “I was truly deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Sherma Batson. She was a well-respected and diligent councillor, who gave freely of her time and energies to help local people and the town - Stevenage has a lot to thank her for. Sherma was a true pillar of the local community and people like her are rare indeed. She will be very sorely missed.”

The flag is currently flying at half-mast at Stevenage Borough Council’s office, Daneshill House, as a mark of respect.

The Church of St Hugh and St John, Mobbsbury Way, Chells will be open from 6 to 10pm this evening for visitors to reflect and light a candle in memory of Sherma.

If you wish to share thoughts and memories of Sherma, you can do this in a book of condolence in our Customer Service Centre or on our Facebook page.

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