CYNTHIA Alcantara Barker, the first Filipina mayor in England, has passed away “following a bout of serious illness.” She was 58 years old.
Her death was confirmed on Tuesday, September 15, by her brother, Gene Alcantara.
“It is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of The Worshipful Hertsmere Mayor Councilor Cynthia Barker following a bout of serious illness,” he said in a Facebook post.
“We will be issuing further information in due course, but may we ask please to respect the family’s privacy at this very difficult time,” he added.
Barker was appointed mayor of Hertsmere, Hertfordshire in England last June. Prior to that, she served as deputy mayor in 2019. She was also a borough councilor for Borehamwood’s Kenilworth ward.
The local government of Hertsmere expressed sadness over Barker’s death.
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this extremely sad and difficult time, and we send them our sincerest condolences,” the council said in a statement on the Hertsmere website.
“She was the first Philippines-born elected representative in the borough, extremely proud of her heritage and committed to doing her utmost to champion equality and diversity for all our communities in Hertsmere. She was also chosen as one of the 100 most influential Filipinas by the Filipina Women’s Network,” they added.
Councilor Morris Bright MBE, the leader of the council, said Barker thrived at being a local councilor.
“I knew Cynthia as both a colleague and friend. Nothing was ever too much for her. She thrived at being a local councilor, always wanting to help residents with their issues. She left a lasting impression on the council and Borehamwood,” he said.
“We are all struggling to take in the sad news at the moment but I am sure we will all remember Cynthia as a kind, wonderful person who was a hard working community representative. My thoughts and prayers go out to Cynthia’s family and friends,” he added.
Meanwhile, Councilor Jeremy Newmark, leader of the Labour group, described Barker as “a trailblazer and role model for women and minorities in local government.”
“It was a privilege to have known and worked with Cynthia. She was a trailblazer and role model for women and minorities in local government. Cynthia was kind and supportive to me personally when I was first elected as a councilor, despite being on opposite sides of the political divide,” he said.
He added, “She brought grace and dignity to the office of Mayor but was always approachable and down to earth, particularly when engaging with children and young people. Her commitment to charitable causes, notably the NSPCC and the Rotary Club, was relentless. May her memory continue to inspire us all.”