Councillor Tim Roca’s speech at the Council meeting on 15th May 2019 seconding the nomination of Harrow Road Ward Councillor Ruth Bush to be Lord Mayor of Westminster
When thinking about nominating Ruth today I asked her for some biographical information on her past, her interests her hobbies, the life before Westminster.
The response was classic Ruth.
Good grief, Tim. I can sail a bit and ride a bit, but that’s about at all.
Well that’s not about all. As we know Ruth is modest in a British way.
She was born in working class Surrey (Ruth insists such a place does exist!)
Her father, was a driver for Royal Army Service Corps and captured at Dunkirk, spending some years as a prisoner of war.
Afterwards, though in poor health, he worked in various jobs, the last being at Ronson’s lighter factory in Leatherhead, where he was a shop steward (and a passionate Liberal – though Ruth’s mother had the good sense to point out each election time that voting liberal was a ‘Waste of a vote’).
Ruth’s father passed away when she was 14 and her mother soldiered on, cleaning in shops and people’s homes and looking after children.
The parents of a school friend of hers picked up the cost of Ruth’s piano lessons, for which she is forever grateful.
She went on to a Methodist primary school in the village of Burgh Heath, with an imposing portrait of John Wesley hung over the boiler in the hall,
She passed her 11+ and benefited greatly from the experience of music, especially choral singing,
Music and Methodism are themes that recur in Ruth’s story.
As has famously been said, there are more Methodists than Marxists in the Labour Party – though these days I’m not totally sure on that point.
Ruth subsequently trained as a teacher, but left after facing mental health challenges, though frequently worked as a supply teacher later.
Moving to London she worked at what was then the Midland Bank in Holborn.
She started to attend the Methodist Church in Fernhead Road W9, Harrow Road.
Ruth soon got involved in music making there and has since that time played the church organ.
In the early 70s, the churches in the area formed the Paddington Christian Council, and Ruth was appointed as their first community worker.
Things were very difficult for what was then referred to as the West Indian community and she worked closely with the staff of the newly formed Westminster Community Relations Council.
She helped set up a youth club – Big Five – which is still fondly remembered for activities which Paddington Arts and the Avenues Youth Club try to provide now – and which sadly the Stowe no longer can.
Ruth was and is determined that young people know that they matter – and they feel safe:
In her mid 20’s Ruth went to the University of York to take a social science degree. I studied at Lancaster University, and so don’t propose we dwell on Ruth’s lack of judgement on this point.
Returning to North London she was appointed by Paddington Christian Council to run their newly opened hostel in Ashmore Road for young homeless women.
Although it was small, with just 6 or 7 residents, this was an enormous challenge to run single-handedly, living in.
Somewhat burnt out after running the hostel, she subsequently worked as a secretary at the House of Commons for a Conservative MP.
All we can say of that experience is that Ruth left and immediately joined Labour party.
She became Age Concern’s Parliamentary Officer and stood as Labour parliamentary candidate for what was then the City of London & Westminster South constituency – and admits she did get a kick from seeing ‘Vote Ruth Bush posters’ in the windows of staff accommodation at Buckingham Palace from the top the 36 bus!
Ruth set up her own parliamentary consultancy, Bush Parliamentary, with an explicitly ‘ethical lobbying’ USP – and achieved some significant results, such as the inclusion of the ‘paramountcy clause’ – in the Children Act 1989 – that the welfare of the child should be paramount.
In 2005 she was elected to this place as a councillor for Harrow Road Ward.
Putting herself forward for selection after then Councillor, now Honorary Alderman, Barbara Grahame urged her to do so.
She has worked tirelessesly as the connection between the council, local activists and the various agencies which might contribute to improving the area.
Ruth’s, initiated projects for isolated people and, above all, the Harrow Road Community Choir, All Sing!
The choir has flourished and developed under the skilled musicianship of Isabelle Adams, taking people from where they are, musically, to a high musical standard where their singing is a joy to hear.
All Sing! will celebrate its 10th Anniversary in 2020 with a specially commissioned work, to be sung in the Wigmore Hall.
Ruth a been a governor of a number of schools – served on Westminster’s Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education (SACRE). a trustee of Paddington Law Centre and of Westminster Tree Trust.
Ruth has Chaired the Westminster Faith Exchange
She works hard
She reads her papers
Ruth is an exemplary and hardworking councillor with a great sense of fairness.
Methodists will know John Wesley’s Rule
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.
Ruth will do that as our Lord Mayor, and I second the nomination.