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Cambridge City Council

Biography of the mayor

The mayor of Cambridge is Cllr Jenny Gawthrope Wood.

Jenny has lived in north Cambridge for many years (first moving here in 1976), latterly with her late husband, former King’s Hedges city councillor and mayor, Nigel Gawthrope.

Jenny was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire in 1956 on Black Country and Irish parents. Apart from periods working in the Netherlands and nine months based in Hull, and weekly commuting for work, she has lived North of the River since 1979.

Although Jenny had been a petrol pump attendant, bar maid, archives clerk, a classics student, archaeology and museum volunteer – being the first volunteer at the Fitzwilliam Museum – after a one-year secretarial course in Cambridge and hoping to work in IT programming or a similar area, she got a job with a Research Council funded research group at Cambridge University working on historical population and social structure, combining her interest in society and learning how to program, develop and analyse quantitative data.

After adding a sociology and economics A-levels and an OU foundation course, Jenny went to study anthropology at University College London and then an MSc in Medical Demography at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she had worked as a research assistant during her degree.

Throughout her working life, Jenny’s main interest has been in social values, evidence-based social policies and public service.

Over the years, Jenny has worked for the Cambridge University both as assistant staff and as a research officer, temped at Addenbrooke’s, worked for the Kings Fund Institute, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, and on EU funded research fellowships on migration and household economy and labour, contemporary household and family structure across the EU, for the EU Dublin Foundation on social exclusion, at Hull University Rowntree project on family breakdown and family assistance, and then at the Office for National Statistics, on population projections, then on modernisation and ONS becoming as independent body, and finally as the ONS Regional Statistician for the East of England.

Jenny served as mayoress in 2018, assisting her late husband as mayor, and for a number of years as treasurer for the Cambridge branch of Parkinson’s UK, before becoming a city councillor where she has served on a range of committees.

She is a strong supporter of volunteer groups and charities and, with her parents needing support and help, for dementia sufferers and for people with Parkinson’s disease. She is a long-term supporter of the Red Hen Project and of homelessness charities in the city and a volunteer director of a local community benevolent society, Reach Community Solar Farm.

She is also a keen diver, plants-woman and a member of Soroptimists International Cambridge, which supports women and girls.

Jenny is looking forward to her mayoral year, finding out about community work across Cambridge and all the organisations and people that make up the city. She is keen to find ways to connect and build bridges with people, partners and communities across the city to help all residents thrive.

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