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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Tributes paid after deaths of former Carlisle mayor and 'Mrs Botcherby'

A community is mourning the loss of two dedicated figureheads who died on the same day.

Vic Davis and Elsie Baty photo
Vic Davis and Elsie Baty, at a long service presentation in 2004

Residents in Botcherby, Carlisle, have paid tribute to former local councillor Vic Davis and close friend and campaigner Elsie Baty.

Mr Davis, a veteran of the Korean War and one-time mayor of Carlisle, died at the Cumberland Infirmary on Monday following illness. He was 87.

Mrs Baty, known as ‘Mrs Botcherby’ after dedicating more than 50 years of her life to the community, died suddenly at home, also on Monday. She was 82. Mrs Baty and Mr Davis were both driving forces behind setting up the Botcherby Community Centre.

Mrs Baty, a member of the Botcherby Residents’ Action Group (BRAG), was featured in yesterday’s News & Star speaking out against a lack of consultation on local issues.

Helen Fisher, chairman of the Botcherby Community Centre, said everyone in the area was in shock at the double loss.

“I actually rang Vic’s wife, Mary, to let her know about Elsie and then I found out about Vic, which was an horrific shock,” she said.

“Those two characters worked so closely together for Botcherby.”

She added that Mrs Baty, who was widowed and had three daughters, had been out for the day with a close friend before she died later that evening.

Mrs Fisher described her as a “passionate and enthusiastic woman who gave everything she had” to the community.

“Elsie was very forward thinking and will be such a huge miss in the community centre and in Botcherby,” she added. “Ten women could not replace her – I’ve never met anyone like her before and it was a privilege to know her.”

BRAG chairman Liz Jenkinson added: “It’s devastating – Elsie was like family to me and my children.

“She was warm and fun-loving and tremendously kind and will be a great loss to the community.”

Mr Davis, a former employee of RAF 14MU, was a Labour councillor who represented Harraby and Botcherby for 20 continuous years and was mayor of the city between 1987 and 1988.

Former colleagues at Carlisle City Council last night paid their tributes.

Council leader Colin Glover said: “When I entered the Labour group council affairs were a complete mystery to me. I remember watching Victor as one of the stalwarts of the group who was committed to serving the city.

“He was immensely proud of the services this council provided and of his role as chairman of the Direct Services Organisation which delivered many big services.

“He took great pride in his work in terms of looking after staff and ensuring they were well equipped to deliver services.

“He gave great services not only to the city of Carlisle but the nation too.”

Mr Glover also told how Mr Davis, who also represented the council on the Conservation Area Committee, was a big supporter of Carlisle Cricket Club and a strong trade unionist.

“It was a privilege to know him and he will be a great loss to his family,” he added.

Leader of the opposition Conservative group John Mallinson described Mr Davis as “blunt and gruff” but “unwavering in his determination to do what he could in betterment for the people of Carlisle and Botcherby”.

Elsie Martlew, the council’s deputy leader, said: “I have known Victor and Mary for many years and he was a very proud war veteran who could tell some awful tales of his experiences.

“He came to Carlisle from the south of the country and had a very broad southern accent but he became an adopted northerner.

“He was very committed and loyal to the Labour party and was sometimes blunt and gruff. But he always had a twinkle in his eye.”

Mr Davis and Mrs Baty were both honoured for their service to Botcherby Community Centre 10 years ago.

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