A PIONEERING South Tyneside Conservative has died at the age of 93.
Retired teacher Beatrice Bolam, who passed away peacefully in hospital on January 2, was one of the longest-serving members of the Tory party nationwide and a councillor in Jarrow for almost 30 years.
Rather like Margaret Thatcher, she was a woman in politics during a period when it was an almost exclusively male-dominated domain.
Eddy Russell, deputy chairman of South Shields Conservative Association, today described Mrs Bolam, who received an MBE for her political service, as a “party stalwart”.
She first joined the Junior Imperialist League, a sort of Young Conservatives of its day, way back in 1939.
At the end of the Second World War, she was elected to the Springwell ward in Jarrow, and went on to serve the area for 29 years, only stepping down when the town and South Shields councils amalgamated in 1974.
She also stood as a Conservative candidate in the Houghton-le-Spring constituency at four general elections from 1950 to 1974, but was never elected.
After becoming a South Tyneside magistrate in 1959, she went on to spend more than 30 years “on the bench”.
Mrs Bolam not only received an MBE, bestowed at Buckingham Palace, but an award for being one of the longest serving members of the Conservative Party in the UK.
Additionally, she held various positions within the Jarrow Conservative Association, including chair twice and treasurer.
Mr Russell said: “Beatrice was a stalwart of the Conservative party for decades and a familiar and much-loved figure. She was well respected and will be missed.”
George Smith, president of South Shields Conservative Association, added: “Beatrice was a much-loved figure in the party locally for decades.”
A funeral service is to be held at South Shields Crematorium on Monday from 10am.
Mrs Bolam is survived by her brother, Alan Patterson.