Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was among the mourners at a memorial service for the late Lambeth Mayor Mark Bennett at St Leonard’s Church, Streatham today.
Councillor Bennett suddenly passed away from a suspected heart attack last month, aged just 44.
Alastair Campbell, who Mr Bennett served as an assistant at 10 Downing Street from 1997 to 2001, delivered a touching yet lighthearted eulogy.
“You were a carer, and a giver. You left your mark on all of us,” said Mr Campbell, addressing his friend and colleague who also helped to research his book The Blair Years.
“I will miss you and so will all who had the good fortune to know your wit, your passion, your insecurities, and your determination to do something good for the world,” he added.
The service also included speeches from Councillors Lib Peck and Imogen Walker, a performance by Dunraven School choir, the school at which Mr Bennett was a governor, and a procession of Lambeth organisations carrying their flags.
“It was a wonderful service, befitting of the great man that he was,” said Robert Hill, a close friend of Mr Bennett and a Labour candidate for St. Leonard’s Ward.
“Lambeth is a massive mix of people but that did not matter to Mark. People easily related to him, as shown by the diversity of those who turned up to his memorial today,” Mr Hill added.
The openly gay councillor was an active campaigner against hate crime and wore his mayoral chains to last year’s Gay Pride Parade.
His unexpected death was met with warm tributes from senior Labour Party figures and members of the community alike.
Mr Blair said: “He was intelligent, immensely hard-working and above all, a warm and generous spirit who was a pleasure to be around.”
Lambeth Council’s leader Lib Peck reflected: “Mark was a very talented individual who went above and beyond for the people of his ward, and for the whole community.”
Photo courtesy of nklajn, with thanks