Remembering a former Leamington mayor who left her mark on the town

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Daughters of a former Mayor of Leamington who died last week have shared their 
memories of a woman who left her mark on the town.

Helen Margaret ‘Peggy’ Stimpson died at a nursing home in Lytham St Annes near Blackpool shortly before her 95th birthday on January 5.

She was the last woman to be Mayor of the Royal Borough of Leamington Spa from 1970 to 1971 before the reorganisation of local government in 1974.

Her daughters Jennifer and Marion said that she was born in Bow, in the East End of London, on February 13, 1923, and was a “proper Cockney”.

She left London when she was in her late teens and worked in a munitions factory near Oxford during the Second World War.

She met Fred Stimpson during this time and he later became her husband.

The couple moved to Leamington in the early 1950s and Fred worked as a civil engineer for both Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council before he became a lecturer at Aston University in Birmingham.

Helen had a few part time jobs but she focused her efforts mainly as a member of the Leamington Townswomen’s Guild for which she became the chairwoman.

During this time, at the behest of her daughters, she took part in and won the guild’s cake making competition with the aim of proving to her children that she could bake homemade treats rather than buying them.

It was also during her time with the guild that she became interested in local politics and, as an active member of the Conservative Party, she would allow the family’s house in Lillington Road to be used for committee meetings.

As a councillor for the Manor Ward, Helen was chairman of the parks and gardens committee with a particular passion for the Lights of Leamington in Jephson Gardens.

This annual event once rivalled the Blackpool Illuminations with people coming from far and wide by coach to visit the town.

Helen was also instrumental in the setting up of the Riverside Youth Centre - one of the first such organisations aimed at providing activities for the youth of the town.

After Fred died about 39 years ago, Helen moved away from Leamington to live near Marion and her granddaughters.

She also had two great granddaughters.

Jennifer said: “Our mother was a tough and determined woman and that is how she would have liked to be remembered.”