In memory of Ruth Larkin, the best mayor that Brighton never had

I had the good fortune of knowing Ruth Larkin in two capacities, as a fellow councillor on the Planning Committee of Brighton Borough Council, and in her role as a Trustee and member of the Board of Brighton Housing Trust.

Scan 13

Ruth Larkin (left) with the then Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Cllr Jeane Lepper, on the occasion of her resignation from the Board of Brighton Housing Trust

She served for around 25 years as a Trustee, paying particular attention to the comfort of our residents. She and her then Conservatives colleague, Bob Cristofili, ensured that support for BHT had cross-party support at a time when it could easily have become a partisan matter.

She chaired the Planning Committee for many years with diligence, skill and integrity. A lifelong cyclist, she would arrive at Committee site visits on her bicycle, humming hymns, content with her lot.

I once referred to Ruth as a Tory, not in a pejorative manner whatsoever, but she let me know in no uncertain terms that she was a Conservative and never a Tory which, she told me, was a nickname given to those who opposed the exclusion of James, Duke of York (a Roman Catholic) from the succession to the Crown. As a South African with a very limited knowledge of British history, I can’t say I understood this deeply held view, but deeply held it was, like many of her beliefs.

Ruth was a Church Warden at St Anne’s in Kemp Town, her faith running through every vein of her being. She was never conventional, some might say her fashion sense was eccentric, and it was perhaps this that resulted in her never becoming Mayor of Brighton, an honour she truly deserved. Perhaps Ruth Larkin should be remembered as the best Mayor that Brighton never had.

My abiding memory of Ruth is that she was a kind person, and that she was one of a kind.


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