The Lambeth community is still reeling from the sudden passing of Lambeth Mayor Cllr Mark Bennett, who died from a suspected heart attack on February 4, aged 44. First elected onto the council in October 2005, representing the Streatham South ward, Cllr Bennett served as Mayor since March 2013 where he made a lasting impact on the borough.
Tirelessly supporting the foodbank as his chosen charity, Cllr Bennett also served as a governor at Streatham’s Dunraven School for over a decade, and promoted LGBT rights as a proud gay man.
Speaking to the Weekender, members of the local community honour a humble, happy man, as highly regarded for his wit and wisdom as he was for being the only man who could truly carry off a straw boater at a Pride parade!
Lambeth Council leader Lib Peck
“Mark loved being Mayor of Lambeth and Lambeth loved him being Mayor.
It’s so obvious from the very many tributes and messages I’ve received that he touched the lives of many people in Lambeth.
Mark was able to find the right manner and words to inspire, encourage, or reassure people. His wit, wisdom and insight are greatly missed by the residents of Lambeth, by his council colleagues, and by his close family and friends.”
Deputy leader for Lambeth Jackie Meldrum
“History was one of Mark’s passions; he was always down in the archives. When Mark joined the council he was always coming up with archival things and he started writing a political history of Lambeth. I believe he’d gotten up to the beginning of the 20th century and he was going to keep going.
Mark was always very helpful, he was good with the media and his colleagues and was very well known in the community. He really enjoyed being Mayor and was always out and about; he was on call 24/7. He was also really proud of Streatham and he really made a real impact with the foodbank and his fundraising.
We are all going to miss him, his interest in the borough, his knowledge and his ongoing commitment.”
Norwood and Brixton foodbank volunteer Phillip Maytom
“Mark was a great supporter of our foodbank. He was always a lovely man, very happy and cheerful. He was always keen to help out, and would get really stuck in. He was a people person. Over Christmas he donated a large amount of fresh fruit and veg. He was pivotal to the foodbank, always making sure we got exactly what we needed. His death was a big shock. Mark left a lasting impact.”
MP for Streatham and Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna
“I cannot believe that he has been taken from us and, at 44, at such a young age. His passing is a huge loss for our community, which he had taken to his heart and loved so much. There is so much to say –words cannot do Mark justice.”
Principal of Streatham’s Dunraven School David Boyle
“Mark was a great supporter and friend of the school, being a governor here for over twelve years. He gave up his time freely and was a humble man. He never looked for any great reward, he just wanted to do the right thing for the school and the children.”
Former co-chair of LGBT Labour (2010-2013) James Asser
“Mark was a committed activist for equal rights and had been a long-standing member of LGBT Labour. He’d been involved in ensuring the organisation developed and modernised to make sure it was in good shape to campaign for what the LGBT community needed and wanted.
He had a sharp political brain and would always offer good advice, which would be both insightful and sensible.
One of the nicest people you could meet and always entertaining company, campaigning and Pride events in the summer won’t be the same without his sense of humour and his own unique style – the only man who could truly carry off a straw boater on a Pride parade!
He took a lot of pride in leading London Pride last year and greeting everyone on the parade as they finished, wearing his mayoral chains (alongside, Jonathan Simpson, the Mayor of Camden) as a mark of how far we had come on equal rights and showing the world the liberal, tolerant face of modern London.
His sudden death was a huge shock and he’s going to be sorely missed by all of us.”