It is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that I share with you the news that Mary Cooke passed away on the morning of Friday 7th January. On Sunday 2nd January Mary suffered a sudden catastrophic heart attack at home. The London Ambulance Service were on the scene within five minutes and a team worked tirelessly over 90 minutes to bring her back to life. She was then taken to the Princess Royal University Hospital and continued to receive first class care.
Following further observation and tests over several days it was confirmed that Mary had sustained severe and irreparable brain damage. Her husband Brian, in consultation with the medical team and Mary’s wider family made the difficult decision to withdraw life support. Mary passed away on Friday morning in the company of her closest family.
Mary was first elected as a councillor for Shortlands Ward in May 2014 and since then became an indispensable member of the Conservative group. Mary's interest in health resulted in her being elected as Chairman of the Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee where she became ever more conscious of the effects of loneliness on health. She became a vociferous supporter of the Freedom Pass and the activities that help reduce social isolation.
As an allotment holder for over 25 years, Mary observed that friendships grew along with the vegetables and she chaired the Council Allotment Panel and organised the annual competition, open to any plot holder in one of the 51 sites in the borough. Competition was certainly fierce!
Mary was committed to working with the Shortlands Residents Association on parking and supporting residents planning issues to preserve the ethos of the Ward. She also worked closely with the Safer Neighbourhood Panel, keeping residents and their homes safe.
However, Mary will be most fondly remembered for her inimitable style where she was a constant vibrant burst of colour in and outside of the council chamber, both metaphorically and in dress. Never afraid to speak her mind, she was hugely popular across both the council and Beckenham Conservatives.
To those who had the good fortune to get to know Mary her friendship was an incredible gift that she bestowed to fortunate recipients, often informing people in her direct manner “you’re my friend now”. Her smile and sense of humour entertained so many and she brightened up any proceeding she attended. I consider it a great honour to have known Mary and a privilege to have had the gift of her friendship.
Whilst many of us will miss her terribly, all of our thoughts and prayers are with her Husband and family at this terrible time. They have set up a Just Giving page in her memory and anyone who would wish to donate may do so here: JustGiving.com/CookeMary
Dearest Mary, our world has lost a shining star. On behalf of our whole party, the countless local residents you helped, and mostly importantly as a great friend - you will be so sorely missed by us all.
Chairman, Beckenham Conservative Association