'She was so proud of what she did for the town': Tributes to much-loved former Hartlepool Mayor Mary Fleet who has died aged 85
Tributes have been paid to much-loved former Hartlepool Mayor Mary Fleet who has died aged 85.
Flags flew at half mast at Hartlepool Civic Centre today in honour of the former Ceremonial Mayor who passed away peacefully in her sleep on Sunday after a short illness.
A familiar face across the town, Mary devoted more than two decades of her life to the people of Hartlepool. She represented Labour in the Belle Vue ward and later the Jesmond ward in a civic life which saw her become Ceremonial Mayor in 2015.
Her son John, a former Hartlepool Mail journalist, said: “My mum was always very proud of what she did for the town and the help that she tried to give people.
"She is still very well thought of today even after she retired from civic life. She would go to Morrisons and people would talk to her and chat. She is remembered fondly and by a lot of people.”
Today, Councillor Brenda Loynes, the Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool, said: “Mary was a remarkable woman who served as a councillor for 21 years and was held in high regard by all who knew her.
“Mary served as the Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool in 2015/16 and raised more than £12,000 which was divided between her chosen charities – Diabetes UK and Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group.
“On behalf of Hartlepool Borough Council, I would like to express my deepest condolences and sympathy to Mary’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill said: “Mary Fleet was a good friend and a great councillor. She set high standards in all her work, she was a strong campaigner and a true champion for her ward and the people of Hartlepool. My thoughts are with her family at this sad time.”
Mary was a mum of three to John, James Lee and Lorna.
She was also grandmother to Andrew, Christopher, Matthew, Sam and Bethany. She had two great grandchildren Olivia and Alfie, with a little girl on the way.
Mary retired from public duties in 2016. At the official ceremony where she stepped down that year, there was praise from council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher who told her: "You have been a fantastic ambassador for Hartlepool and you are going to be a huge miss to Hartlepool Borough Council."
Mary first took on the role of Mayor in May 2015 and said at the time: “I feel very honoured. I’m looking forward to supporting various charities and supporting the people as much as possible."
"I will be a people’s person. The whole aim of being on the council in the first place was to support and work for the people."
She was as adept at campaigning to protect Hartlepool’s health services as she was meeting and engaging with schoolchildren.
Mary fought to protect the University Hospital of Hartlepool’s fertility unit from closure in 2016, and made cakes with children at Rift House Primary School in 2014.
Within the council, Coun Fleet served on the Children’s Services and Licensing committees and was a member of its Corporate Forum and North and Coastal Neighbourhood Forum.
Outside the local authority, she represented the council on several bodies including the School Admissions Forum, and was a nominated trustee of the Henry Smith Educational and Non-Educational Charity.