Coronavirus: Tributes paid after ‘much-loved’ former Islington Labour Councillor Wally Burgess dies

Wally Burgess. Picture: Islington Council

Wally Burgess. Picture: Islington Council - Credit: Archant

A much-loved former Islington Labour councillor has died after reportedly contracting Covid-19.

Wally Burgess, 79, served as a councillor for St George’s ward and then Canonbury ward between 1998 and 2014.

He was married to Cllr Janet Burgess MBE (Lab, Junction), who’s deputy leader of Islington Council and the borough’s health and social care chief.

Islington Council leader Richard Watts said: “I’m very sorry indeed to hear about the passing of much-loved former Islington councillor Wally Burgess.

“Wally was always the life and soul of the party and was very popular with residents, councillors and council staff alike. My love and thoughts are with Janet, who cared for Wally with such love and fortitude, and her family at this sad time.”

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Isilngton North MP Jeremy Corbyn said: “Wally was dedicated to working for the community, and never failed to notice those in need, particular those experiencing housing related pressures.

“Wally and his wife Janet moved to Islington in 1988 and rapidly became very involved in the Islington North Labour party. For a time, Wally chaired the constituency party demonstrating immense skill, wit and erudition to get through what were often long and complicated meetings, and I found him an excellent person to work with.

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“Wally was first elected to the Council in 1998. However, in 2002, Islington’s worst election for Labour, Wally won in St George’s (Janet losing her seat). Wally was re-elected to St George’s ward in 2006 alongside Janet’s election to Junction ward, both the only Labour councillors in their respective wards.

“As a Councillor Wally worked very hard in representing the ward, challenging the Council on (among other things) environment and recycling issues, and exposing the very embarrassing story in 2005 about Islington’s waste being dumped in Indonesia rather than being properly recycled in North London.

“Wally had been the witty raconteur, and life and soul of the party. For a while Islington North Labour Party organised day trips to France and Wally and Janet joined in the frivolity therein. Wally was a warm and sociable character who enjoyed chatting to lots of members and the day trip and boat across the channel were wonderful moments that will be remembered by many of his friends and colleagues locally.

“After he stepped down as a Councillor, Wally’s health sadly deteriorated and in later years he developed Alzheimer’s.

“We must note our huge thanks for the contributions Wally made via his local community, and at Council level.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP and former Isilngton Council leader Catherine West tweeted: “Sending all the love in the world @JanetBurgess1 & to all Wally Burgess’ family, Wally was a great advocate for a cleaner environment and with a proud record of promoting Sure Start and other great Labour achievements in local government. RIP former Cllr Wally Burgess.”

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