Tributes paid following death of former leader of Wellingborough Council

Eileen Higgins
Eileen Higgins

Tributes have been paid to an honorary freeman who served on Wellingborough Council for more than 30 years.

The flags outside Swanspool House in Wellingborough are flying at half-mast following the death of Eileen Higgins.

Eileen served on the council for more than three decades, which included a period as leader of the authority and the role of mayor on two occasions.

A spokesman for Wellingborough Council said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Honorary Freeman Eileen Higgins who passed away peacefully on May 13, 2018.

“Eileen joined Wollaston Parish Council in 1983; she was elected as a borough councillor, at a by-election on August 7, 1985, representing Wollaston, Grendon and Strixton for over 30 years.

“Last year she was made honorary freeman of the borough of Wellingborough for her eminent service to the borough, to local government and to other organisations.

“During her time on the council she was mayor of the borough twice, first in 1992 and again in 2008.

“She served on the majority of council committees and became leader of the council in 2003 for three years.

“She gave outstanding service to a number of external organisations.

“She was a member of the Wellingborough Twinning Association, on the board of directors for The Castle and chairman of the Wellingborough Homes Board.

“She had been vice-president of Wellingborough District Scouts and a governor of Wellingborough School.”
And the spokesman added: “The flags outside the council offices at Swanspool House are flying at half-mast and will continue to do so until after the funeral.

“Our sincere condolences go to her family at this very sad time.

“She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”

Cllr Tom Partridge-Underwood, who knew and worked alongside Eileen for more than 30 years, said: “She was more interested in community than politics, politics was just a vehicle to serve.

“She had a wealth of experience, you could always rely on her for common sense and she had a brilliant business brain on her.”

Cllr Partridge-Underwood said he and Eileen used to do after-dinner speaking together, which he said was a lot of fun.

He added: “They always used to call us Gin and Tonic - that was Eileen’s favourite tipple.

“We used to go to all sorts of groups.

“We never rehearsed, we would just get in the car and I would say ‘you start’ and she always said something amusing.

“It was ‘unplugged’ as they would call it.”

The Conservative councillor said his lasting memory of Eileen would be her sense of fun and her amazing business brain.

And looking back on what her lasting legacy to Wellingborough would be, he said it would be the many major projects she was involved with, including moving the housing stock over from Wellingborough Council to Wellingborough Homes.

Cllr Partridge-Underwood said the borough is very much indebted to Eileen for all that she did and he added: “We send our love and support to the family, to the three boys and the grandchildren.”