A public memorial was held on Monday for Toby Eckersley, the housing-rights champion and former Dulwich Village ward councillor who died while standing for election in May’s local elections.
Mr Eckersley sadly passed away at 76 years of age while standing as a candidate for London Bridge and West Bermondsey in May. A minute’s silence was observed at the count in his memory.
The Walworth Society, of which Cllr Eckersley was an active member, said: “Very moving memorial service at Southwark Cathedral today for former Southwark Cllr and long-standing Walworth resident Toby Eckersley who died earlier this year.
“Fond and heartfelt tributes from his family and the numerous groups of people in Southwark whose lives he so enriched.”
Conservative politician Ian Twinn, shared on Twitter: “And so a final farewell to Toby Eckersley at Southwark Cathedral.
“He was simply, or actually not so simply, a hero. Councillor, flying the Conservatives flag, sometimes alone, helping those who had no one else. And a good friend to many of us.”
Eckersley became known in recent years as a firm advocate on the rights of the Aylesbury Estate leaseholders, whose battle with Southwark Council went to two public inquires and resulted in the council changing its policy on estate regenerations in March of this year.
Beverley Robinson, a leaseholder whose case was taken up by Ecklersley, said his work was invaluable in this landmark and authoritative case. She gave a moving tribute at the service on behalf of the Aylesbury Leaseholder Action Group, describing him as ‘a perfect, quintessential gentleman and a scholar’.
She told of how his own passionate fight to save his home from demolition in the 1970s helped him take up her – and ten other leaseholders cases with the same rigour and determination, humorously noting: “Toby was a very educated individual.
“I called him on many occasions and said, ‘Toby what are you doing?’
“Very politely he would respond: ‘working for you Beverley, reading through the mountain of documents.’”
Touchingly, she said: “He was my teacher, my motivator, advisor a researcher, a campaigner, a community leader, a politician and a brother, uncle, cousin and godfather and most of all he was a true friend to all”.