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Plaque unveiled to honour Lydia Simmons at new housing development

Reporter:

James Hockaday

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A commemorative stone honouring former Mayor of Slough Lydia Simmons, the UK’s first female black mayor, was unveiled on Thursday.

The 78-year-old was joined by friends, family and members of Slough Borough Council (SBC) and developers Slough Urban Renewal outside the soon to be completed Lydia Court.

The 11 home council housing development in Elliman Avenue, which is due to be completed this summer, has been named after the former Labour councillor.

Lydia was mayor of Slough in the municipal year of 1984/85, becoming the first ever black female mayor in the UK.

Born in the Caribbean island of Montserrat, Lydia came to Slough in 1960 and served as a councillor for 23 years, from 1979 to 1994 and again from 1999 to 2007.

She was chairman of SBC’s committee responsible for housing from 1985 to 1994, shadow commissioner for housing and commissioner for social exclusion and neighbourhood services.

In 2011, her service was recognised with an OBE.

At the ceremony Lydia told the Express: “It is so lovely people thought of me. It’s fantastic, I never expected anything.

“I’m feeling really good, especially having councillors from my ward and my family all come to give me support.”

She is proud of the policy changes she helped make during her career.

“We did so much to get people off the streets,” she said. “I went to visit these families so that I can see what was happening to them, that’s important.”

Lydia, says she often gets stopped in the street by members of the public who recognise her.

SBC commissioner for housing and urban renewal Cllr Zaffar Ajaib (Lab, Central) said: “I can think of no better person to have a new council housing development named for than Lydia.”

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