Death of popular ex-Mayor

Rona Winkworth
Rona Winkworth

WARM tributes have today been paid to a former Mayor who has died after a quarter of a century as a councillor.

Rona Winkworth lost a prolonged battle against renal failure at the weekend having been admitted to hospital in Wigan earlier this summer.

Her death as a sitting Winstanley member will now eventually trigger the second borough by-election of the year.

A proud Welshwoman, Coun Winkworth would also relish the description of adopted Wiganer and was fiercely defensive of her ward patch.

The long-time Labour stalwart also made many friends during her term of office as the borough’s First Citizen between 2008/09 (with daughter Gail as Mayoress) as her gentle Celtic charm came to the fore, particularly in her enthusiastic dealings with children and teenagers.

It was an interest which would see the Grandma given a special portfolio by Council Leader Lord Smith within the town hall representing the interests of young people.

Re-elected in May 2012 for a new three year term, Coun Winkworth also served on the planning and development plus the education. highways and public protection panels.

And was a chair of governors at Winstanley Primary School.

One of her lasting legacies from the endless lobbying and internal Labour group campaigning, was the council’s agreement not to sell off the former Hope Special School premises in Highfield Grange Avenue, when they became vacant, but to turn them instead into The Grange Community Centre.

Three years ago she was surprised and delighted to have a quiet room facility at St Paul’s Primary School – Rona’s Room – named after her because of her contribution.

She had also been a leading light, along with late colleague Coun Bill Evans, in the creation of the former Highfield Grange Community Centre, off Holmes House Avenue.

Away from political duties, a major passion was taking her grandson to Goodison Park to cheer on their beloved Everton FC. Lord Smith today paid a strong tribute to an “old and valued colleague.”

He said: “She represented her community of Winstanley, serving them well and retaining her seat even in the most difficult circumstances.

“She was particularly interested in education and played important roles in that committee.”