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Tributes pour in for print activist

Tributes have been paid to the mayor of Cambridge and print activist Nigel Gawthrope who has died suddenly.

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Tributes have been paid after the sudden death of Nigel Gawthrope. Photo: Cambridge Labour Party

Gawthrope, 61, was on a scuba-diving holiday with his wife in South Africa and collapsed suddenly after surfacing from a dive on Friday (January 11th). His cause of death is unknown.

Whilst he had only served eight months in office as mayor, Gawthrope was elected as a ward councillor in 2012, and was re-elected in 2016. He began his career as a bookbinder for Cambridge College Press in 1974, staying with the company for 38 years. He moved onto their successors MPG Printgroup until 2013, and then took on the roles of trade union tutor for Unite as well as taking a leading position with the printers’ union SOGAT (The Society of Graphical and Allied Trades).

A keen motorcyclist, scuba diver and underwater photographer, Gawthrope dedicated 30 years of his life to representing print workers and moved to become a councillor to represent working people in his local community of Cambridge.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke pays tribute: “The sudden and tragic death of Nigel Gawthorpe, mayor of Cambridge and long-standing Unite activist in the union’s printing sector while on holiday in South Africa is tragic news. Our thoughts tonight (Sunday, January 13th) go out to his wife Jenny and his family at this very sad time.

He always fought hard on behalf of his members in a difficult environment for the UK’s print industry during a period of intense technological change

“The people of Cambridge have lost a fine and dedicated public servant, where he was a Labour councillor from 2012. He loved being Mayor of Cambridge – one of the UK’s most progressive cities, but with its fair share of social problems.

“I knew Nigel for many years. He was a staunch and dedicated trade unionist, an internationalist and a socialist. He was a bookbinder by trade and father of the chapel (senior union rep) at Cambridge University Press where he worked from 1974 until 2012. He always fought hard on behalf of his members in a difficult environment for the UK’s print industry during a period of intense technological change and supported the print unions coming together.

“He will be sorely missed by his many friends at Unite and across the trade union movement and Labour Party and in the printing industry.”

On the Cambridge Labour Party’s website, Cllr Kevin Price says: "Nigel was both a friend and a colleague. We had long shared a history of trades union activism within the printing industry before he joined me on the council as a Labour councillor for King's Hedges ward.

"He loved representing the ward where he grew up and many residents in the ward will share our deep shock and sadness at his untimely death."

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