The bells will ring out tomorrow at City Hall to pay tribute to one of Bradford’s former Lord Mayors who died earlier this week.
Olive Messer is the second former Lord Mayor to pass away this month after Tom Wood died on December 17. Flags at City Hall and district offices will also fly at half mast.
Mrs Messer held office at the time of the Valley Parade fire and launched the Bradford Disaster Fund for victims.
Her son Laurence paid tribute to his “lively and vibrant” mother after her death on Wednesday, aged 83.
“Anyone who met Olive never forgot her lively outgoing personality,” he said.
“She was a doer and was never happier than getting out and trying to help people, especially the underdog, even if the person concerned sometimes was unaware they needed help.”
Mrs Messer moved to Bradford with her husband Dr Basil Messer in 1948. He was one of the first GPs at the start of the National Health Service and the couple moved to Barkerend Road, where Mrs Messer helped her husband in his practice.
They moved to Shipley in 1957 where she became a Conservative Councillor and, such was her popularity, she won the Labour stronghold seat in the old Shipley Central Ward ending Labour’s 40-year reign there.
She was sworn in as Lord Mayor in 1984 and was Chair of the Education Committee, the Council Management Committee, Assistant Tory Whip and the Deputy Chair of Development Services during her time as a politician before her retirement in 1988.
Mrs Messer, who leaves a son, daughter Ruth Baker and two grandaughters Kate and Georgina, met Basil in 1947 on a blind date and they married in 1948. He sadly passed away last year.
Mr Messer said that his mother very much enjoyed their busy life together and said that “her love of meeting people and talking to them made her very useful and popular in the practice”.
“Her entry into politics came by default, as Basil was asked to stand for the Council, but did not consider it wise for a doctor to become involved in politics and his work occupied too much of his time,” he said.
“She was always willing to help her constituents and pursuing their problems with enthusiasm and never willing to take no for an answer.
“She was Lord Mayor of Bradford in 1984 and was the first woman Jewish Lord Mayor and met thousands of people from all the different cultures and organisations that comprise Bradford.
“In the days that followed the Bradford City Fire she met Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana and Prince Charles. As she said at the time “Of course it was interesting, but I would have much preferred not to have met them at all than have to meet them in such circumstances.”
At the time of her death, Mrs Messer was living in Bristol close to her daughter.
Her funeral is due to take place at 11.30am tomorrow at Scholemoor Cemetery on Necropolis Road.