Home of Stevenage World Forum renamed after its founder – Sherma Batson
- Credit: Archant
A Stevenage community centre has been renamed in honour of community activist Sherma Batson, six months after her sudden death.
A special memorial event was held on Saturday at the Together Centre – founded by Sherma and now aptly renamed the Sherma Batson Centre in her memory. on
The day of the renaming was made even more poignant as it fell on her wedding anniversary to husband Howard.
A long-serving councillor and Stevenage’s first female black mayor, Sherma passed away suddenly on January 8 after collapsing at a soul event in Blackpool the day before.
Saturday’s event was attended by friends, family, councillors and members of Stevenage World Forum – which Sherman founded and which uses the centre as its base.
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The Comet also paid tribute by presenting a special plaque, which is now on display at the centre.
Sherma’s daughter Ahisha Ferguson – who has now taken over the running of the forum – said: “There was a real sense of community and everyone really enjoyed it.
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“It was very fitting the building was named after mum – she was inspirational to a lot of people.”
Sherma founded the centre and the forum as a way of bringing Stevenage’s international communities together, and on Saturday people were invited to bring along dishes of food from their cultures.
These international supper clubs will now happen monthly and there is a Stevenage International Day planned for August 18 as a celebration of the town’s diversity.
Ahisha said her mum’s mission was to “reach out into the community and see what people need”, and she hopes the centre and the events will help the forum attract a new following.
She said: “Some people said on the day they had never heard of Stevenage World Forum. The centre used to be buzzing, but a lot of people my age haven’t head of it.
“Now it’s about reaching out to a new generation.”
Sherma represented Stevenage’s Broadwater division on Herts County Council, was heavily involved with her church and many community groups, and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008 for services to local government and the community.
More about the forum can be found on Facebook by searching for Stevenage World Forum.