PASSIONATE campaigner for Blackheath and its people Mary Docker has died after a short battle with cancer at the age of 59.
Dubbed “Mrs Blackheath”, she served the town as a Conservative councillor for eight years until losing the 2012 election when town hall Tories took a beating in the backlash against the national Government.
Although disappointed, it did not stop her working for Blackheath, and continued in her role as secretary of the Blackheath Business and Community Association, running the 15 CCTV cameras which protected the town.
Mrs Docker worked at the heart of the community with her market stall, Moonbeam Textiles, which was open house for residents to share their concerns and problems.
She ran Blackheath’s annual Tree of Life to raise money for charities, was deputy leader of Sandwell’s Tory group and served for a spell as chairman of the Halesowen and Rowley Regis Conservative Association.
Halesowen born and bred, she ran the Dean and Moon textile shop in Blackheath with husband John from 1990 until his death in 2001, after which she carried on with the market stall they had opened in 1997, and moved to Tividale.
The mother-of-two, who adored her two granddaughters, battled against multiple sclerosis for more than 30 years and after being taken ill at Christmas, was diagnosed with cancer just five weeks before her death on Sunday.
Daughter Bec said: “She was just such a kind, generous person. I used to call her the official do-gooder, because she wanted to help everyone.”
A minute’s silence was held at Tuesday’s Sandwell Council meeting and tributes from Conservative colleagues flooded in.
Former Sandwell Tory group leader Ray Nock said: “She was not only a lovely woman, she was an excellent deputy leader of the Sandwell Conservative Party and she always put the people first.”
Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris added: "It is difficult to sum up the enormous contribution that Mary made in Blackheath over so many years - as a councillor, with the Business and Community Association and through all her other community activities.
"She was a key source of help and advice for me after I was selected as the Conservative candidate in 2008 and throughout my time as Member of Parliament.
"I will miss her frank and helpful support greatly, but I know she would prefer to be remembered for all the help she gave to so many people and community groups in Blackheath and across Sandwell."
Independent Halesowen North Conservative councillor Karen Shakespeare said: “I still see Mary as Mrs Blackheath with the work she did for the town.
“She was really hard working - she was so passionate about Blackheath. So many people will have known her, and with her market stall as well, which she ran until last year.”
Cllr Shakespeare added: “She will be desperately missed, I had a lot of time for her - she was a lovely lady.”
Mrs Docker had stood unsuccessfully as an independent councillor for the town and it was Pedmore and Stourbridge East councillor Les Jones who persuaded her to stand for the Conservatives in 2004.
Fellow Halesowen North councillor Jeff Hill said: “She was absolutely dedicated to the people of Blackheath both when she was a councillor and before and after her time on the council.
“She was known by so many people, a friendly face to talk to at her stall in the market. She will be sorely missed by all of us.”
Former Cradley Heath and Old Hill Tory councillor Liz Bowler and her husband Alan added: “She did work tirelessly and was very passionate about her work as a councillor. It is a really sad loss, really tragic.”
Mrs Docker’s funeral will be held at St Hubert’s RC Church, Oldbury, on Tuesday April 29 at 11am followed by burial at Rowley Regis Cemetery.