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First Filipino mayor in Britain passes on

Cynthia Alcantara-Barker, England’s first Filipino mayor, has passed away, her family announced in a Facebook post on Sept. 14.

She was elected mayor of Hertsmere District in Hertfordshire, England, in June 2020.

"It is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of The Worshipful Hertsmere Mayor Councilor Cynthia Barker following a bout of serious illness," the family’s statement read.

"We will be issuing further information in due course, but may we ask please to respect the family's privacy at this very difficult time. Your prayers for the repose of her soul would however be welcome."

As Hertsmere mayor, Alcantara-Barker was described as "extremely proud of her heritage" and a politician who was "committed to doing her utmost to champion equality and diversity" for all the communities in her town.

Responding to the news, the leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, Councilor Morris Bright MBE, said: “I knew Cynthia as both a colleague and friend. Nothing was ever too much for her. She thrived at being a local councilor, always wanting to help residents with their issues. She left a lasting impression on the council and Borehamwood.

“We are all struggling to take in the sad news at the moment, but I am sure we will all remember Cynthia as a kind, wonderful person who was a hardworking community representative."

The council's managing director, Sajida Bijle, also sent sympathies to the family and friends of the late Filipina.

"I know how honored she was to be appointed to Deputy Mayor last year and then as Mayor, and how much she enjoyed undertaking a whole host of duties across our communities. She will be greatly missed by us all,” Bijle said.

Councilor Jeremy Newmark, leader of the Labor group, meanwhile, remembered Alcantara-Barker as a "trailblazer" and a "role model for women and minorities in local government".

"Cynthia was kind and supportive to me personally when I was first elected as a councilor, despite being on opposite sides of the political divide," he said.

“She brought grace and dignity to the office of Mayor but was always approachable and down to earth, particularly when engaging with children and young people.”

Before being elected mayor this year, Alcantara-Barker served as deputy mayor in 2019 and had been a borough councilor for Borehamwood’s Kenilworth ward since 2015.

She was the first Philippine-born elected representative in the borough and was also chosen as one of the 100 most influential Filipinas by the Filipina Women’s Network.

Topics: Cynthia Alcantara-Barker , Filipina Women’s Network , Morris Bright , Jeremy Newmark
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