Councillor's moving tribute to 'brightest star' Penny Holbrook.

A leading Birmingham cabinet member fought back tears as he paid tribute to his ‘kind and loyal friend’.

Cllr John Cotton paid an emotional tribute to Penny Holbrook. Picture: Birmingham City Council
Cllr John Cotton paid an emotional tribute to Penny Holbrook. Picture: Birmingham City Council

Speaking at the meeting of full council, Councillor John Cotton described Councillor Penny Holbrook as ‘articulate, talented and energetic’ and ‘one of the brightest stars in our party’.

Councillor Holbrook passed away suddenly on November 22 aged just 43, with tributes pouring in from both sides of the political divide.

Wednesday's full council meeting was the first since her passing and cabinet member for social inclusion, community safety and equalities, Councillor John Cotton, gave a moving speech in memory of his friend.

“We stand together this afternoon with a profound sense of shock, sadness and disbelief as we mourn our colleague, our comrade, our friend, Penny Holbrook,” he said.

“Without doubt, Penny was one of the brightest stars in our party: someone who was dedicated to the Stockland Green community that she served, who was driven by a profound commitment to social justice; and crucially, someone who knew how to translate her values into practical actions that changed people’s lives for the better.

“When all else is gone, my abiding memories of Penny are of laughter and kindness. She was the very best of company – someone who could brighten a room by walking into it. She was also a kind and loyal friend – someone you could turn to in a crisis and would always give you good, if sometimes direct and unvarnished advice. Like so many of us, I will miss her candour, I will miss her laughter and her friendship so much.

“I hope that in due course, we can find a way to honour her name and legacy that reflects the great causes she cared about and this city that she loved.

“But for now, I hope we can all honour her legacy by thinking about how we conduct ourselves here. You can be robust without being nasty. You can lose an argument without losing a friend.

“Let’s all be a bit more like Penny.

“There is so much more I could say about my friend Penny Holbrook. It breaks my heart to find myself here paying tribute to her, rather than looking forward to having a good old chat and a laugh after this meeting ends today – as we did so many times over the years.

“I’ll leave the last words to her mum, Mollie. She wanted us to know that her daughter will always be: “My beautiful, bright Penny. A shining star”.

“Colleagues, we were so lucky to have her shine here, so brightly amongst us.

“And we will miss her light so very much.”

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