Carers’ walk in memory of Stevenage mayor Sherma Batson who championed their cause
- Credit: Archant
More than 100 people took part in a sponsored walk on Saturday as part of Carers’ Week, to honour the memory of a former Stevenage mayor who championed carers before her sudden death earlier this year.
Stalwart councillor Sherma Batson was the first black female mayor of Stevenage, played a key role on Stevenage Borough Council and served her community as an elected member for the Roebuck ward.
She was also a Herts county councillor for Broadwater and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008 for service to local government and the community.
She died in January, aged 59, after suddenly collapsing at a soul weekender in Blackpool.
On Saturday, carers held a sponsored walk in her memory at Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage.
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Participants, who included members of Sherma’s family and borough council leader Sharon Taylor, raised more than £2,000 for the Crossroads Care Stevenage Respite Centre.
Organiser Norman Phillips - who cares for his wife, who has multiple sclerosis, and his elderly mother - said: “I’m really pleased with the turnout and the way it went. We were very well supported and there was a real sense of community.
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“As well as raising money, our aim is to raise awareness of the support that’s out there.”
Sherma came to the aid of carers when funding cuts in 2010 meant facilitated support groups had to stop.
Carers began meeting independently at Stevenage’s Oval Community Centre, but could not afford to pay for the room hire, so Sherma offered them space at the council offices.
When the group expanded, she helped them to apply to councillors for discretionary funds to move to a bigger place.
Norman said: “Sherma worked tirelessly on our behalf and always made time to come along to our events, whether it be Carers’ Week, Carers Rights Day, or anything else we dreamed up.
“She made us feel valued, and for carers that is a very precious gift.
“Our carers’ group is now 50 plus and we reach out to all carers in our town. Without Sherma we would have faded away, so she means a lot to us. She was our true carers’ champion.”