TRIBUTES have been paid to Stratford District Council’s longest serving councillor who died this week.
Sir William Lawrence was a member of the authority for32 years before his death on Tuesday (February 10) at the age of 60.
The Conservative councillor, who represented the ward of Aston Cantlow, was first elected in 1982 and was the only councillor to become council chairman twice – in 1990 and again in 2010.
During his time on the council, he held the position of chairman of both the environmental health and planning (west) committees and more recently, he became a member of the Cabinet as environmental services portfolio holder.
Despite contracting polio aged three and being confined an electric wheelchair, the former KES pupil took on a number of influential roles both locally and nationally.
He was a member of South Warwickshire General Hospital NHS Trust, a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, as well as chairman of the Heart of England Tourist Board.
Sir William also had a keen interest in the arts – holding the position of Stratford Chamber Music Society president – and was also passionate about issues relating to health, education, facilities for the disabled and charity work.
He became the fifth Baronet after his father’s death in 1986, and in 2003 was made an OBE for his service to the tourism industry.
Two years later, he married Tamara Bubashvili from Tbilisi in Georgia.
Paying tribute, Sir William’s neighbour, Coun Mike Gittus, described him as “an absolute inspiration.”
He said: “Sir William had the remarkable ability to remember the names, identify and telephone numbers of anyone he ever met.
“He fought the cause and corner of those who were in a similar situation, but never once played on his disability or allowed it to stop him in anyway.
“He met Tamara and they fell in love and married. He was very proud when he was accompanied by her and she supported him continually in everything he did.”
Stratford District Council leader Chris Saint added: “It was with extreme shock I learned of the loss of my friend and colleague, Sir William.
“In addition to his work at the council, he was renowned nationally as a member of the LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport Board and his contributions were valued by his peers at all levels.
“He was very much the father of the council chamber and he will be sorely missed.
“Our sincere condolences go out to his wife, Lady Tamara, who we all knew as his loving companion, carer and minder.”