Memories from a past Mayor
Lydia Simmons at an Upton Hospital fete with husband Dudley
As Slough celebrates 80 years as a borough, one of our former history-making Mayors, will also turn 80 this year.
Originally from Montserrat, Lydia Simmons moved to Slough in 1960, and was elected to the council in 1979. She became Slough’s first deputy Mayor in 1983 and made history in 1984 when she became the first black female Mayor in the whole of the UK.
As a former central ward councillor, Lydia remembers knocking on constituents’ doors on Saturdays and asking if they needed any help. She sat on police boards, hospital boards and was very involved with young people, some of whom she sees with their own children now.
Lydia remembers a time when there were a lot less houses and Slough was full of fields, including where Wexham Park Hospital is now. She also recalls when the big Tesco was a school and when the Slough Estate was originally part of London County.
Lydia was on the housing committee of the council for 10 years and housing is where some of her favourite memories are. She said: “We changed our housing policy and started housing from the bottom of the list for those most in need.”
In honour of her work in housing, a new development of 11 council homes was named Lydia Court after her.
Below is a stump from a felled tree where Tesco now stands, given as a gift when Lydia left the council.
Slough is a place Lydia is proud to call home and she has always enjoyed the diversity of the borough. She said: “Being multicultural, people got on because they learned about each other’s cultures. I used to say to the children, never give up your culture, be proud and just be yourself.”
Over the years there have been massive developments in Slough in terms of population, businesses, investment and traffic, but Lydia is confident we are the place to be.
She said: “In the next 10 years Slough is going to be the best town in England. I believe when all this work has finished we are going to be the envy of England. I’m looking forward to seeing the new leisure centre, that’s the sort of thing Slough really needs.”
Lydia’s children and grandchildren keep her busy and she is still involved in the community.
As well as celebrating her 80th birthday in July, this year she will be celebrating 60 years of marriage to Dudley.
Lydia, who was given an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list in 2011, said: “He has always been very encouraging. I would not have been able to do it without him.”
Happy 80th to Lydia and to Slough borough!