Published: 28 July, 2016
by ELLA JESSEL
PEACE flags billowed and fists were raised in a farewell salute as friends and family of the former mayor of Camden, Gloria Lazenby, gathered at Golders Green Crematorium to celebrate her life.
Dressed in red, purple and white, guests packed into the chapel on Friday afternoon to hear tributes paid to the life-long community activist who died last month at the age of 87.
Ms Lazenby served as a councillor between 1986 and 2002 and was the borough’s first citizen in 1996. Her home in St Martin’s Close, Camden Town – where she lived with her cats, Nelson, Winnie, Che and Rosa – was for many years a haven for like-minded community activists.
Pictured above at Golders Green Crematorium: Cllr Roger Robinson, Harvey Bass, Cllr Flick Rea, Anne Degert, Alan Brownjohn, Aileen Hammond, Aftab Ahmed and Cllr Richard Cotton. Back row: Carlie Newman, Adotey Bing-Pappoe and Cllr Paul TomlinsonCouncillors past and present, old colleagues from the mayor’s office, friends and family gathered for the funeral service.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn apologised for not being able to attend and, in a tribute posted on social media, praised “a friend, a wonderful socialist campaigner and former mayor of Camden”.
Patricia Mitchell gave a eulogy in which she described how she first met her friend of 40 years at a councillor’s surgery after she arrived in London from Belfast with her young daughter.
Ms Mitchell, who ended up squatting in the next-door house to Gloria’s in St Martin’s Close, shared one of her friend’s favourite anecdotes about swiping a purple roll of carpet on the street outside the Conservative Party HQ to furnish her new home.
“My difficulties with party politics have been the predictable line of politics that people feel they have to follow,” she said. “But Gloria, as you know, was very much her own woman in that respect, and in this and in many other things Gloria unfailingly continued to surprise me.”
Other tales of Ms Lazenby’s exploits were shared by her daughter, Jenny Lazenby, who recalled the time her mother ended up in Holloway Prison after being arrested during a CND sit-in protest at Trafalgar Square.
Ms Lazenby left the Labour Party in the 2000s following political disagreements with some of her Town Hall colleagues over the closure of libraries and then stood as an independent for the council but was narrowly defeated
Jenny said that, while her mother’s commitment to fighting cuts was an “inspiration”, she was also a lover of classical music, opera, film and literature.
The funeral service included a reading of Maya Angelou’s poem, Phenomenal Woman, music from the Unity Theatre Folk Band, which Gloria helped to organise, and the old trade union ballad, Joe Hill, performed by Syd Maddicott. Guests joined in with a rendition of left-wing anthem, The Internationale, many raising their fists in the air in salute.
Ms Lazenby’s granddaughters: Annie Lazenby, Faye Lazenby, Rebecca Baker and Lisa Lazenby, with Una Doyle, who was their teacher at Camden School for Girls.
Musicians from the Unity Theatre folk group