Crawley’s first woman mayor died after fall in her home

June and Ben Clay pictured in 2009
June and Ben Clay pictured in 2009

A former Crawley mayor and long-serving councillor died three days after falling in her home in Northgate.

June Clay, 86, broke part of her leg in the fall in her Caffins Close home and died after undergoing surgery at East Surrey Hospital on November 27.

Mrs Clay was the town’s first woman mayor, serving between 1977 and 1978, and was described as one of the town’s ‘giants’ after her death.

An inquest into her death, held in Horsham yesterday (Thursday January 28), heard that Mrs Clay fractured part of her femur and was taken to hospital on November 24.

Doctors discovered her blood pressure was low, but she was taken for surgery to repair her leg.

By 11pm on November 27, she was unresponsive but still breathing, the inquest heard.

Her family were contacted and informed of her deteriorating condition, and a decision was made not to attempt resuscitation.

The inquest was told Mrs Clay’s dementia had worsened, her walking was unsteady since she suffered a stroke in recent years, and her weight had dropped ‘dramatically’.

West Sussex coroner Penny Schofield said: “I am going to record she died an accidental death. She would not have been in hospital had it not been for the fall.”

Mrs Clay and her husband Ben moved to Crawley in 1953. Both served on Crawley Borough Council for decades, and Mr Clay was the town’s first mayor.

Last month, long-serving councillor and former mayor Brenda Smith said: “June was probably the first woman in the borough council to make a big mark.

“At that time it was very unusual to have women in those roles in the council, so that is an achievement in itself.

“She was glamorous and well turned out, but very forceful and very sure of what she wanted to do and achieve.”

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