With deep sadness, Cambridge City Council shares confirmation of the sudden and tragic death of the Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Nigel Gawthrope, at lunchtime on Friday following a dive off Durban in South Africa.
The council’s thoughts are with the his wife Jenny , the Mayoress, who was with him, and with his family and friends and close council colleagues as they come to terms with this devastating loss. The exact cause of Cllr Gawthrope’s death has yet to be confirmed.
Cllr Gawthrope has been a city councillor for seven years, having been first elected in 2012 to represent King’s Hedges ward and was re-elected in 2016.
In May 2018, councillors unanimously voted to elect him as Mayor of Cambridge for the current municipal year to May 2019. His death comes eight months into his term of office.
Cllr Gawthrope was born in Leeds in 1957 and moved to Cambridge in 1962, later moving to Arbury the area he has lived in ever since.
He attended St. Luke’s, St Paul's, The Grove Primary and Cambridge Grammar School for Boys, before completing an apprenticeship at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology (CCAT) in 1978.
Cllr Gawthrope began his working career as a bookbinder for Cambridge University Press (working there for 38 years from 1974 to 2012), moving on to their successors MPG Printgroup until 2013.
He then took on the roles of Trade Union tutor for his trades union Unite, and as an industrial relations consultant. During 2016/17 he worked at the Judge Business School before securing his current role as a porter at Clare College, Cambridge.
He was a committed Trade Unionist throughout his working life, representing fellow print workers for over 30 years including being Father of the Chapel at Cambridge University Press from 1980 to 2013.
His dedication to representing and helping others led to his decision to stand for the council in 2012. During his time on the council he served and contributed to an impressive range of committees: Licensing, Planning, Civic Affairs, Housing Scrutiny, Environment Scrutiny (including as Chair), Joint Staff Employment Forum (including as Chair), Employment Appeals panel and the Council’s Development Plan Scrutiny Sub Committee.
He was a keen motorcyclist including as Mayor leading the 2018 Santa Run carrying hundreds of presents to children in Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
He was an experienced SCUBA diver and underwater photographer, and was on a diving holiday in South Africa when he died. He was also a lifelong and fervent Leeds United supporter.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Council , said: “Losing Nigel is a massive shock and hurts us all at the city council, particularly his closest colleagues, and that is nothing compared to the devastation that his close and loving family are feeling right now.
"I have talked today to Jenny, his wife and our Mayoress, and passed on our condolences and deepest sympathies, and we are so glad that Nigel’s brother is flying out Monday to support her when she most needs it.
“Nigel represented King’s Hedges and the council with distinction and we will miss him terribly. He revelled in his most recent role of Mayor and first citizen.
"He made time for everyone, doing exactly what he excelled earlier at locally, connecting as Mayor with all the hundreds of people he met across our city, and particularly with volunteers and staff and people benefitting from the many organisations we work with to help those most in need across Cambridge.”
Antoinette Jackson, Chief Executive of the council, added: "The city has lost someone who was passionate about serving others.
"Nigel said at the beginning of his Mayoral year that his aim was to bring the mayoralty to the people and to be very approachable.
"He had certainly achieved that objective and was having fantastic mayoral year. With Jenny at his side as his Mayoress, they put people at their ease where ever they went.
"We are all shocked and very sad to lose him when he was enjoying life so much and still had so much more to give the city."