Tributes to Barking and Dagenham councillor who died after chairing meeting
PUBLISHED: 14:32 26 February 2013 | UPDATED: 08:34 27 February 2013
After delivering a rousing speech at a Barking and Dagenham Council meeting yesterday night, a well loved councillor and former mayor died.
Flags are flying at half mast following the untimely death of councillor Nirmal Singh Gill, 65, who was chair of the assembly and represented Longbridge Ward.
He leaves behind two children, Cllr Rocky Gill (Deputy Leader of the Council) and Bindy, and a loving wife Mohinder Kaur.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Liam Smith said: “It is with great sadness that I announce the death of one of our most popular and respected councillors, Cllr Nirmal Singh Gill.”
He explained he died after chairing the full council and completing “a stirring speech” in support of his bid to once again be elected to the position of First Citizen.
Cllr Smith added: “During his first mayoral term, Nirmal set new records for the amount of money he raised for charity and his commitment and support for Help For Heroes was remarkable. He showed a dedication to the cause of injured service men and women which meant that he was able to raise an impressive £29,400 for the charity in just one year. It’s a standard that has proved difficult to match.”
Cllr Gill – who was just two months old at the historic creation of India - was born in Jagat Pur, a small village in Punjab state. He came to the UK in 1968 and settled in Barking, the borough that was to become his home for the next 45 years. Here, Cllr Gill worked for two Dagenham institutions, Telephone Cables Limited, and Ford Motor Company, before being elected to serve his borough in 1990. He remained on the council until 2002, before being re-elected in 2006, a period of dedicated service which continued until yesterday.
A committed, lifelong Sikh, Cllr Gill was a longstanding member of the Singh Sabha London East Gurdwara, where he also served as secretary in his mayoral year. He was also the recipient of the prestigious Mother India International Award and the Hind Rattan Award.
“On a personal note,” added Cllr Smith, “Nirmal was a loyal and well-liked colleague and friend. As an experienced and knowledgeable councillor, he was someone to whom I was able to turn for advice on many an occasion. And I know I speak for all councillors in Barking and Dagenham when I say that it was pleasure and an honour to work so closely with him in the 22 years since his election.
“I am honoured that I was there to see him at his best last night – making a speech to the council that he loved and once again receiving the applause and respect of his colleagues. I am deeply sorry that I won’t be able to see him like that again.”