Tributes paid to ‘maverick’ councillor and ‘champion of Seven Kings’ Stuart Bellwood
- Credit: Archant
Tributes have been paid to “champion of Seven Kings” Cllr Stuart Bellwood, who died last week following a long illness.
Cllr Bellwood was elected in May 2002 and was the former chair of Ilford South Labour Party.
His background as a clinical psychologist made him a passionate advocate for vulnerable residents and protecting healthcare in the borough.
He worked with former Ilford South MP Mike Gapes and health activist Andy Walker on the Save King George Hospital A&E campaign, which began in 2006, and was a member of the health scrutiny committee and the licensing committee.
Fellow Seven Kings councillor Bob Littlewood said even though he had been a councillor since 1982 he still learned a tremendous amount from Cllr Bellwood.
“He was the best colleague I ever had and a deeply loyal and personal friend.
“I learned an enormous amount from him, particularly regarding how to listen to people and understand residents’ problems.
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“Because he was a mental health professional he knew how we could work with our most needy cases.”
Cllr Bellwood was happiest when meeting with residents and was proud that they never strayed from holding two surgeries a week.
Cllr Littlewood added: “He had plenty of opportunities to advance in the council and the Labour Party but he was adamant that he was most useful as a back bench strutiniser.”
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting said Cllr Bellwood was “immeasurably kind to me when I first stood for election to Redbridge Council 10 years ago”.
Council leader Jas Athwal said: “Stuart was a wonderful person, his maverick style and happy-go-lucky nature will be missed by us all.”
Mr Gapes said he first met Cllr Bellwood in the mid-90s.
He said: “I remember Stuart asking for my advice on how to handle a complicated procedural issue at that time. Stuart was then elected in 2002 as a councillor for Seven Kings and he worked assiduously in that role for 18 years on behalf of local residents, holding regular advice surgeries and street canvassing.
“Stuart had a dry sense of humour and was always good fun to be with. And despite poor health in recent years he was always warm and optimistic. He will be sadly missed.”
Cllr Vanisha Solanki echoed that and said: “He was caring, helpful and always giving advice.
“He knew how to put a smile on your face! He will be greatly missed.”
Chair of Redbridge Labour Group, Cllr Judith Garfield MBE said: “He was a public servant dedicated to our borough for many years. He was kind, with a great sense of humour, and fairness, and was always a champion for the many communities in Seven Kings. He will be deeply missed – our deepest condolence to his family.”
The leader of the conservative group Cllr Linda Huggett said he was a “unique and different councillor” and recalled how passionate he was about peace.
“He always used to wear a white poppy on Rememberance Day. I know this because I helped him source a white ceramic poppy when I was Mayor which he took great pride in wearing.
“Personally both myself and the Conservative Group will miss him. Although he was a labour councillor he was always friendly to everyone.
“Even though he was not well for a long time he always had a twinkle in his eye, loved sharing a joke and always had a smile on his face.”
Cllr Kam Rai said: “Stuart was intelligent, always had time for a chat and was very supportive. He will be missed.”
Ilford South MP Sam Tarry said he was saddened at the news and called Cllr Bellwood a diligent councillor and active trade unionist.
Funeral details are not known at this stage but Stuart’s family will be holding an event in Redbridge in due course in his memory.