Tributes to ex-mayor

Gladys Worthy
Gladys Worthy

EMOTIONAL tributes have been paid to a “larger than life” former councillor and Mayor of Hartlepool.

Gladys Worthy, who stood as a councillor in the Owton, Rift House and Park areas for 32 years, died in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The mum-of-two, who stood down as a councillor in May due to deteriorating health, was 82.

Councillors joined forces to pay tribute at last night’s meeting of the full council.

Speaking after a minute’s silence, Labour group leader Chris Simmons said: “Gladys was a person that did not suffer fools gladly, but was always very kind and compassionate.”

Independent councillor Cath Hill added: “I will remember Gladys as someone who had the courage of her convictions.”

Conservative group leader Ray Wells said she will be “deeply missed,” while Liberal Democrat councillor Edna Wright said she was “shocked and saddened” at the news.

The 82-year-old was a county councillor for 12 years, a magistrate between 1974 and 1991 and stood as ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool between 1995 and 1996.

Her work in town was recognised earlier this year when she had a street named after her.

Gladys Worthy Close is a new development of 18 houses between Kipling Road and Thackeray Road, on the Rift House estate.

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher nominated his close friend, who retired as a Labour councillor for the Rift House ward in May, to be honoured.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Akers-Belcher said: “She had a fine art of balancing family life with her community work.

“Gladys has been a fantastic mentor.

“She was an outstanding councillor and a real character.”

Coun Akers-Belcher also revealed that during a trip to Hartlepool in the 1960s, former Prime Minister Harold Wilson gave a speech from her bedroom window.

Gladys had let him in because of the large crowds below.

Her lifetime commitment to the Labour Party led to her being the first town recipient of the Lifetime Devotion to the Labour Party Award.

Labour councillor Carl Richardson, chairman of the council, said: “Gladys first became involved in the Labour movement as a member of the Usdaw union when she worked at the Co-op. She joined the Labour Party over 50 years ago, and was a real stalwart.

“She was a fantastic fundraiser for the party, and when she became a councillor she always fought for the people she represented.

“I personally met Gladys in the early 1970s and I always admired her for speaking her mind and putting the interests of those people she represented first.

“She will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with her family.”

Gladys, who was born in Tweed Street, Hartlepool, was married to husband Norman, 87, for more than 60 years.

Gladys, who worked as a bus ticket operator, married Norman at St Oswald’s Church, in Brougham Terrace, in 1950.

The former councillor also leaves behind two children, Hilary Worthy and Norman Worthy, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.