Geoff Taylor, who passed away last week aged 70. Photograph: Hackney Council

Tributes have been paid to former Hackney councillor and speaker Geoff Taylor, who died last week at the age of 70.

Taylor served as a Labour councillor for Victoria ward for sixteen years from 2002 until May 2018, when he stood down after becoming unwell.

As a former teacher, Taylor always took a great interest in the welfare of the children in the borough.

He campaigned for better secondary school provision in his ward, and Labour colleagues say he was pleased to see the opening of Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy in September 2014 in his ward.

He chaired the council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Commission twice, and was a champion of Sure Start and children’s centres, attending a parenting course to see for himself the quality of what was being provided.

Taylor was Speaker of Hackney in 2004/05, supporting charities offering help and encouragement to new parents.

He was a gifted musician and a founder member of a community choir in South Hackney. For many years, he was the organist at St John of Jerusalem church and regularly organised carol singing around the shops and pubs in Victoria Park.

Taylor was also a local historian, and the author of A Parish in Perspective: A history of the church and parish of St John of Jerusalem, South Hackney.

From 2014 to 2017 Taylor was cabinet member for finance, playing a crucial role in managing the council’s budget during a challenging period of government cuts.

He stepped back from this role when he fell ill, and stood down from the council in 2018, but continued to take a keen interest in local affairs.

Taylor was treated at Barts and the Royal London hospitals, and was transferred to St Joseph’s Hospice last week.

Hackney Labour says he was glad to be back home in the borough, and the care he received in the hospice was outstanding. He died there on Friday morning with his wife Elizabeth holding his hand.

Victoria ward councillor Katie Hanson said: “Geoff was my fellow ward councillor, my mentor and my friend. He was kind, thoughtful and principled, and will be greatly missed.”

Mayor Philip Glanville said: “His passion for education, Hackney, local history, young people and Europe was second to none. He’ll be greatly missed by us all.”

Cllr Ian Rathbone, chair of the Hackney Labour Group of Councillors, said: “I knew Geoff for many years and he was a good community person long before he became a councillor.

“He was a very dedicated person in helping to improve the lives of others in whatever way he could. He encouraged other newer councillors, and was an excellent mentor and friend to them. A credit to the Labour movement.”

Taylor’s funeral takes place on Thursday 17 October at 11am at St John of Jerusalem, South Hackney. All are welcome to attend.

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