This month we celebrate Lydia Simmons OBE. Lydia made history in 1984 when she became the first black female Mayor in the whole of the UK. This year, Sabrina Francis became Camden Borough’s first female black Mayor and Joanne Anderson became Mayor of Liverpool, the UK’s first directly elected female black Mayor.
Originally from Montserrat, Lydia Simmons moved to Slough in 1960, and was elected to the council in 1979. As a former central ward councillor, Lydia would knock on constituents’ doors on Saturdays and asking if they needed any help. She sat on police boards, hospital boards and was very involved with young people, some of whom she sees with their own children now.
In honour of her work in housing, a new development of 11 council homes was named Lydia Court after her.
“Being multicultural, people got on because they learned about each other’s cultures. I used to say to the children, never give up your culture, be proud and just be yourself.”
Each month we mark the significant life of a person of colour as a positive statement and a contribution to redressing historical imbalances in our society.
illustration by Simon Gosling