Tributes to former mayor and popular Crawley figure

Crawley councillor and former mayor Raj Sharma has died.

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 11:59 am
Raj pictured at the launch of Crawley's 70th birthday celebrations. Pic Steve Robards SR1700026 SUS-170901-154059001

Mr Sharma, who represented Southgate for Labour, passed away on Tuesday (January 12) and will be honoured with a minute’s silence at the next meeting of the full council.

Born in Delhi, India, in 1952, his love of youth and community work blossomed in 1976 and continued when he moved to Crawley in 1992, becoming an extremely popular figure around the town.

He worked at the Crawley Boys Club/Crawley Youth Centre, in West Green, until 2020. 

Stepping into politics, he has represented Southgate since 2014 and served as Mayor in 2016/17 and 2019/20.

A council spokesman said: “He will be sorely missed by staff, members and the Crawley communities in which he was passionately involved in.

“He was very proud of what he achieved and was able to raise for his charities during his two years as Mayor of Crawley.

“Our thoughts are with Raj’s wife, Bhavna, his family and friends.”

Labour leader Peter Lamb described Mr Sharma as ‘one of the kindest, most generous men’ he had ever known.

He added: “His long history of service to Crawley’s stretches back far beyond his time on the council, helping generations of local children to grow and find confidence through his years as a youth worker and playing a leading role in many of the town’s community groups.

“He will forever be remembered as Crawley’s first Hindu Mayor and someone totally committed to our town.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Conservative leader Duncan Crow said: “My colleagues and I are deeply saddened at the passing of Raj Sharma and we offer our condolences to his family and friends.

“I’ve known Raj for 17 years from his time in the West Sussex Youth Service and then subsequently as a fellow councillor and mayor.

“It has always been evident to me how very well-known and how very well-liked Raj was in Crawley.

“He is going to be deeply missed by so many people who had great affection for him.

“This is a sad loss and a sad day for our town.”

Soham Acharya, a Hindu priest living in the town, said: “It is very sad news for Crawley and the entire Hindu community.

“He was very joyful, Calm and respected person. His hard work, dedication and commitment for uplifting of Crawley Town, his support to various communities and youths are milestones and will be surely missed.

“We Hindu Priest community in Crawley, pray for the peace and blissful journey of his departed soul.

“Our deepest condolences to his wife Bhavna ben and family.”

Funeral details will be shared when known and the Crawley flag will fly at half-mast on the day of the funeral.

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