Patrick Barr on the former chair of Southfield ward Conservatives
I write this in tribute to a wonderful person I was honoured to call my friend.
I met Eleri Ebenezer in 2011, soon after moving to Esmond Road, Chiswick . At this time, Eleri was the Conservative Chair of Southfield Ward for the London Borough of Ealing. Of course, as you do, I googled her before I met her. I was nervous about meeting her and eager to impress.
We met on an ice cold morning in November 2011 and she instantly put me at ease. She was calm, friendly and engaging. On this morning, she showed me how to canvass. She was an absolute pro at it: eloquent, knowledgeable, but above all whether the resident was Labour, Lib Dem or Conservative, they loved chatting to her. On the rare occasion, some residents would hurl abuse or worse, slam the door in our face leaving me a tad startled. She would just say “thank you so much for your time, come on Patrick.”
Shortly after, Eleri introduced me to members of the Conservative Southfield Ward Committee, who all, in turn, met my husband, Richard.
From then on, Eleri, the core Southfield Conservative activists and myself worked hard to try and turn Southfield ward Blue. Eleri’s passion for politics was infectious. A councillor for 16 years, she continued to help people beyond.
Eleri expertly continued to play a pivotal role in guiding me through the political landscape to councillor, onto the Parliamentary candidates’ list and to my first Parliamentary selection.
Eleri would always come with me to canvass the various seats (a requirement to remaining on the list). We’d chat about anything and everything in between houses, waiting for the other to suggest a break. “Coffee?!” would be muttered. Without hesitation and response from the other, we darted towards the nearest coffee shop for a well-earned break.
Patrick Barr with Eleri
Eleri was a modern Conservative, inclusive and accepting of ALL. She embraced change within the Party and would be leading change locally from the front, taking everyone with her.
Over time our friendship grew stronger until the politics was secondary and friendship was most important.
Coffees on Chiswick High Road, dinners in the Tower, coming to see Richard’s productions (Director of Drama at Kingston Grammar School). Her love and support had no limits.
At our wedding, our families recall meeting Eleri in the car park of the venue and her saying “are you going to a wedding by any chance?” She brought an instant warmth to whoever’s life she touched.
I fondly recall two very funny occasions. We were doing a delivery around Southfield Ward in her car. I got in ready to go and she suddenly started coughing. “Eleri, are you alright?” I said. “I’m very sensitive to smells, it’s your cologne Patrick, I think I’m going to be sick”. More recently, pre pandemic we all attended a Southfield Conservative fundraiser. As night drew in, our hosts said, “watch your step at the back, don’t fall into the pond”. An hour or so later there was a loud cry for help! Eleri was standing waist high in the pond, thankfully unhurt at the end of the event with very few of us left. I speedily helped her out; she proceeded to empty her entire handbag full of pond water and fish onto the ground. I couldn’t stop laughing, I’m laughing now! Eleri took it in such good humour, made a quick exit and got a lift home.
Eleri was a warm, kind hearted and loyal person and she was a true people person right to the core. This is evident from her extensive and diverse background from working at the BBC for 25 years to being elected as a Councillor for the London Borough of Ealing for 16 years, where she served as Chair of Social Services and Employee relations. She also held the role of Chair for a mid-Wales NHS Trust for 10 years.
For the past 10 years Eleri was Chair of the Certitude Board, a charity that provided support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health support needs across London, from essential round the clock support, to helping after a period of crisis to rebuilt connections in the community. Eleri was entirely dedicated to Certitude and worked tirelessly to promote Certitude wherever she went and was so proud of its achievements. She was very hands on and frequently arranged face to face visits with teams, the people they cared for and their families. She was a true ambassador for Certitude.
I had the privilege of accompanying her to the yearly Michael Rosen awards in 2019, a packed-out yearly event to celebrate the achievements of the staff working for Certitude. As Chair, Eleri gave the most inspirational speech and spoke proudly about how the teams had changed the lives of those in their care.
There is now a big gap in my life, and many lives, without Eleri. The Conservative family she welcomed me into is the same family that is so comforting at such a sad time. Eleri will live on in our hearts and minds and she will be talked about with great affection whenever we all meet.
The same family is here for her brother, Gareth and sister, Catherine who are both in our thoughts and prayers.
Eleri’s funeral takes please this Friday (17 September) in Chiswick. In lieu of flowers her family have asked for donations to Certitude. Donating money to Certitude would get Eleri really excited. Let’s donate big and do her proud.
Please follow this link to make a donation.
Councillor Patrick Barr
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September 17, 2021