Councillor Maxi Martin had been ill since December
Well-known Merton Councillor Maxi Martin died in her sleep on Wednesday (April 6) after suffering from an illness since December.
Councillor Martin, had represented St Helier for 18 years and in 2010 was appointed cabinet member fo children's services, having served as cabinet member for social services and education in previous administrations.
Releasing the news, Merton Council said in a statement: "She was always very popular with children across the borough when she frequently visited them at their schools, taking a huge interest in their learning and creating a borough of opportunity for them.
"Her most recent visit was not long before she fell ill, when she went to Abbotsbury Primary School to see all the donations the children had collected from residents to support refugees living in the borough."
Leader of Merton council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, said: "Maxi was a wonderful councillor and was deeply committed to representing residents in St Helier. She was also devoted to the interests of young people and worked tirelessly to ensure their voices were heard. The armed forces also valued the work she did in organising the yearly Armed Forces Day Parade in Merton.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Maxi’s family, who were so important to her and were with her until the last."
Cllr Oonagh Moulton – Leader of Merton Conservative Group – said: "I and my Conservative colleagues are very saddened to learn of the passing of Cllr Maxi Martin and our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues.
“We all have some wonderful memories of Maxi as a councillor for St Helier, as a Past Mayor of Merton and as the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People. I have been privileged to work with her myself over many years and have personally enjoyed her company.
“Maxi was an extraordinary and vibrant character who stood up with passion for children and vulnerable people and - whether young or old – for those who have suffered abuse. She will be missed across our borough and may she rest in peace.”
Iain Dysart, Liberal Democrat councillor 1994-2002, 2010-14, added: "We are deeply saddened and shocked to hear of Maxi's passing. Few politicians at any level command the respect or admiration that she achieved. She always had time for everyone, and this was reciprocated.
"Despite the pressures of her roles, no task was ever too large or small for Maxi. She assiduously attended meetings to inform other councillors of her activities and aspirations. She argued her case passionately and authoritatively, whether or not it commanded unanimous agreement of all present. Her mischievous streak (expressed with warmth) and sense of humour were part of her attraction and on equal display at public or private discussions.
"Maxi's commitment to the interests of Merton's young were unrivalled. She championed Merton Council's role as a "corporate parent", reminding all of the responsibilities this entailed. Her cordial relationships with officers helped her to challenge and achieve positive outcomes to the benefit of those she represented. She also worked very closely with the communities of St Helier, which gained her deep affection as well as loyalty.
"It is hard to believe that Maxi is no longer with us; and she is a tough act to follow and example to all. We send our deepest condolences to Maxi's family and friends at this sad time."
Merton council has opened a book of condolence and is inviting residents who wish to pay their respects to sign the book. It’s in the foyer of the civic centre, outside the entrance to Morden Library.
Mayor of Merton, Councillor David Chung, wrote his own message. He said afterwards: "The comments that have been left on the council’s Facebook page and on Twitter, following the announcement of Maxi’s death, show just how popular she was with the people she worked with and the young people whose lives she touched. She will be greatly missed.”
Councillor Alambritis, will hand the book to Councillor Martin’s family on behalf of the residents of Merton.
April 7, 2016