Sad death of one of Sutton’s first Liberal councillors

Sutton Liberal Democrats have learned with sadness of the death of Jenny Thomas, one of the first Liberal councillors to be elected to Sutton Council, and at the time one of the youngest Liberal council members in the country.

Jenny, then 23, was one of the six Liberal councillors elected in May 1974, representing Sutton Central Ward with Graham Tope, also newly elected to the council.  She lived in Beulah Road, just opposite the Collingwood Estate where the Liberals enjoyed enormous support and, after her election, Jenny became an extremely popular and effective councillor, highly regarded by local residents who appreciated having their ward representative living so close.

Unfortunately, family circumstances forced her to stand down from the council the following year and she moved away from Sutton.

Graham Tope paid a warm tribute to Jenny Thomas, saying that in spite of her short time on the council she had left a lasting impression.

He recalled their election campaign when their window bills simply said Thomas Tope. He said:  “I had ceased to be the local MP only a few weeks before, and many people assumed that Thomas Tope was my father.  We had to reprint the window bills using our first names as well.”

Graham Tope said:  “I had lost contact with Jenny until March this year when she emailed me because she wanted to protest that British citizens, like her, were to be denied a vote in the EU Referendum, and I was the only British politician she knew.

“She told me that in the village in Lanzarote where she lived there was only one other British couple and, by an extraordinary coincidence, their daughter-in-law was Samantha Bourne, a current Liberal Democrat councillor in Sutton.”

Graham said that by further coincidence, Samantha lives barely 100 metres from where Jenny Thomas’s home when she was in Sutton 40 years ago.

Jenny Thomas had been running a business in Lanzarote until she retired recently, and where she died suddenly last week.

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