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Tributes pour in for New Addington community stalwart Brenda Kirby

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ONE of New Addington's greatest champions, Brenda Kirby, died last Sunday after losing a long battle against lung and brain cancer.

Tributes have been flowing this week to the former Labour councillor who dedicated her time in office to looking after the people of the estate.

Mrs Kirby, who lived in New Addington with husband Bob for more than 45 years, would have been 70 next year.

A drama and special needs teacher by profession, Mrs Kirby was first elected to the council for New Addington ward in 1986 and served, apart from a short break due to ill-health, until 2010 when her illness stopped her from seeking re-election.

During her time on the council her jobs included leading for the Labour opposition on cultural services.

She was a champion of the arts and was a former chairman of the board of the now closed Warehouse Theatre.

She also served as a school governor, as manager of Goldcrest Youth Centre and founded the New Addington Little League football competition.

Mrs Kirby was Mayor of Croydon in 2004/5 and was made an MBE in the 2010 New Year Honours in recognition of her contribution to the New Addington community.

And it was representing and supporting the people of New Addington which she believed was her greatest achievement.

Her husband, Bob, said this week: "She wasn't what you would call a 'politician', just a hard-working local councillor.

"There was no side to Brenda and no hidden agendas. She was just there to help people and she will be remembered for that."

He added: "She absolutely loved being mayor, she thought it was the best job ever."

Mr Kirby's views were echoed by leader of Croydon Council Tony Newman, who said: "Brenda was from that rare breed of politicians who not only connected naturally with local communities but also brought together people from all the main political parties.

"She lived alongside the community she represented for many years and had a deep and personal understanding of the issues which mattered most to those she represented."

He added: "I know I can speak for everyone who knew Brenda when I pass on to her family the sincere gratitude Croydon owes to a woman who dedicated her life to helping others and making the world a better place."

Tributes have also been paid by Councillor Toni Letts and former New Addington council colleague George Ayres, who both worked with Mrs Kirby to found the Brenda Kirby Cancer Centre in New Addington Baptist Church.

Her ambition to set up the centre came after she was diagnosed in 2009.

She received support from the cancer help centre in Purley and wanted to see similar facilities provided in New Addington. Her dream came true when it opened in November 2011.

Cllr Letts said: "Brenda really drove the centre because she knew from her own experience how important it was to have someone to talk to. Throughout her illness she carried on very courageously. She was always cheerful and always positive."

Mr Ayres said: "She was a wonderful person, generous and supportive and very open and caring."

In addition to Bob, Mrs Kirby leaves son Clifford, daughter Erica and three grandchildren.

There will be a memorial service in Croydon Minster on Wednesday at 2pm followed by a private family service at Croydon crematorium.

Tributes pour in for New Addington community stalwart Brenda Kirby


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