Former mayor and champion of Stevenage causes to join elite group with highest honour the town can give

Sherma Batson died last month after collapsing suddenly.

Sherma Batson died last month after collapsing suddenly. - Credit: Archant

Community champion and former Stevenage mayor Sherma Batson will be posthumously given the highest honour Stevenage Borough Council can bestow: the Freedom of Stevenage.

Sherma died suddenly in January after collapsing at a soul dance event in Blackpool.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Stevenage councillors agreed to posthumously confer the Freedom of Stevenage on Sherma who had been the town’s first female black mayor.

Council leader Sharon Taylor who was a close friend to Sherma, said in moving the motion: “This honour recognises the contribution made by exceptional individuals.

“Sherma worked hard for many years to help all communities in our town feel valued, treasured and celebrated. She was an advocate and promoter of democracy and social justice in our town, and inspired others with the warmth of her smile and her zest for life. She truly, uniquely and exceptionally made a difference.”

The 59-year-old Labour Party councillor had played a key role on Stevenage Borough Council and served her community as an elected member for Roebuck ward.

She was also represented Broadwater on Herts County Council

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The title of Honorary Freeman is the highest honour that a council of a city or borough can bestow. Under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972, a council can admit ‘persons of distinction and persons who have in the opinion of the council, rendered eminent services to the city, borough or royal boroughs’ as Honorary Freeman.

Sherma Batson joins seven people already bestowed with the honour. They are Philip Thomas Ireton JP CC DL, The Right Hon Shirley Williams, The Right Hon John Silkin MP, Councillor Michael Cotter, Councillor Brian Hall CC, Hilda Lawrence, and Dr Joachim Gerhard.

Sherma had received an MBE for services to her community in 2008.