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First Filipina mayor in England passes away

September 15, 2020 - Tuesday 8:09 PM by PNA

Article Banner Image Hertsmere Mayor Cynthia Alcantara-Barker (Photo from Hertsmere Facebook page)

MANILA – Cynthia Alcantara-Barker, the first Filipina mayor in England, has passed away.

Alcantara-Barker was elected as the mayor of Hertsmere District in Hertfordshire, England last June 2020. Her passing was confirmed by her family in a Facebook post dated Sept. 14.

"It is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of The Worshipful Hertsmere Mayor Councillor Cynthia Barker following a bout of serious illness," the family 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," it added.

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

Responding to the news, Hertsmere Borough Council leader, Councillor 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 councillor, 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," he added.

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.

Councillor Jeremy Newmark, leader of the Labour 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 councillor, 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," he added.

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

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