Mayor of Cambridge and seasoned print sector union representative Nigel Gawthrope has died at the age of 61.


Gawthrope was a “beacon of inspiration” for his work as a union representative and a city councillor (pic: Unite the Union)

Gawthrope had been a Labour councillor for Cambridge City Council since 2012 and became mayor eight months ago. He began his career as a bookbinder at Cambridge University Press in 1974 and was father of its union chapel from 1980.

He was on a scuba diving holiday in South Africa with his wife Jenny when he reportedly collapsed on Friday (11 January) after surfacing from a dive. It was announced yesterday (13 January) that he had died, although the cause of his death remains unconfirmed.

Gawthrope was a lifelong member of the Labour Party and a committed Unite representative. He left Cambridge University Press in 2012 and, following a brief stint at MPG Printgroup before its shutdown, he moved into local politics and was elected to represent the King’s Hedges ward twice in 2012 and 2016.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke, who worked frequently with Gawthrope over the years, told PrintWeek: “Nigel Gawthrope was a dedicated trade unionist through and through, working at all levels of Unite from local to international. He was a skilled bookbinder for one of the UK’s most famous book printers and his work was impeccable.

“He worked tremendously hard on community issues and has always been interested in working people and their lives. He was a beacon of inspiration as someone who took his responsibilities in civic life very seriously.

“What is important to remember most of all, though, is that he was an ordinary guy who came up off the shop floor. His work at Unite and Cambridge City Council was not full time, but he was absolutely dedicated to putting other people and his community first, which is what we should take forward from his passing.”

Alongside his civic duties, Gawthrope has worked at the Judge Business School and was most recently employed as a porter at Clare College, University of Cambridge.

He was also a keen motorcyclist and supported Leeds United FC, his home team, and it was his passion for scuba diving and underwater photography that took him to South Africa last week.

During his time in the print sector, he worked as a delegate for Unite, travelling to countries including the US, Bolivia and Nicaragua to speak to and represent working people.

Details on services and contributions will be confirmed at a later date.


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