LABOUR leaders past and present, national and local, have praised Rugby’s longest-serving councillor at a special celebration event.
Friends, colleagues and family of Dr James Shera MBE gathered at the Benn Partnership Centre to celebrate his 40 years of dedicated public service.
Speakers, including past Mayors of Rugby and people who have known Dr Shera since he first arrived in the town in the early 70s, talked about his remarkable career, and his passionate commitment to equality and community cohesion locally, nationally and internationally.
And Dr Shera, who stepped down from his role as Borough Councillor for Benn Ward in May, was surprised with messages from Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
At the event, Dr Shera was entered as the first Distinguished Fellow on Rugby Labour Party’s Roll of Honour.
Coun Barbara Brown, Chair of Rugby Constituency Labour Party, said: “His experience and good counsel are missed by us all in the Council Chamber. We are so proud of him and what he has achieved, and we are delighted he’s accepted the Distinguished Fellowship award.”
Rugby’s Leader of the Labour Group, Coun Maggie O’Rourke, said: “I have known James Shera for 38 years, during which time I have come to count on him as a dear friend and trusted colleague. He has always been there for me, as he has for so many people, to offer shrewd advice and practical help.
“As Councillor for Benn Ward for 40 years, James was a towering figure in our community and his positive impact across the Ward and beyond is immeasurable.
“It’s typical of James that at an event celebrating his career, his speech was mainly him praising others. All in politics have a lot to learn from James Shera.”
Sir Keir wrote a heartfelt letter of thanks for the dedication Dr Shera has shown to the Labour Party.
He wrote: “I am delighted and proud that the Labour party has members like you. I wanted to put on record the Labour Party’s gratitude – and my own – in recognition of your forty years’ unbroken service as a Labour councillor in Rugby.
“For many years you led the Labour Group on Rugby Borough Council with distinction, obtaining international honours and titles, but most importantly improving the day-to-day lives of residents in your ward.
“Your leadership, loyalty and commitment are a wonderful legacy and a lasting example to all local Labour councillors, both at home and around the country.”
Gordon Brown sent a video praising Dr Shera’s dedication to social justice and community issues during a long and influential career.
He said: “I know your newly elected colleagues, alongside your sitting colleagues, hold you in the highest esteem – as we do in the Labour Party nationally – and we know you will play a big part in the next mission, winning back the seat.
“Thanks for your public service.”