‘Fearless and dedicated’ - The exciting life of Norwich's 100th Lord Mayor
- Credit: Antony Kelly
Back in 2009, Eve Collishaw became the 100th Lord Mayor of Norwich – joining just a handful of the city’s previous lady mayors.
Born Evelyn Jean Collishaw on April 3, 1945, in Norwich, the former city and county councillor died suddenly last month aged 76.
The daughter of respected and well-known pharmacist Edward Roy Collishaw and his wife, Matilda nee Campbell Miller, Miss Collishaw attended Norwich High School for Girls from the age of 11 before undertaking a business training course in London.
Following a brief spell working at John Mackintosh and Sons chocolate factory, she took the job of assistant to the company secretary at Anglia Television at its former Agricultural Hall studios. During her career there, she worked alongside presenters David Frost OBE and Dick Joice.
In 1966, she surprised everyone by handing in her notice to emigrate to Australia aged 21. The ship she travelled on was involved in a horrendous typhoon in the Indian Ocean before arriving safely in Melbourne.
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She found work in Sydney for Australian broadcaster Channel 10 and would watch the Opera House being built during her commute. She spent three years as a resident there, briefly returning to Norwich in 1969 before travelling to South Africa in 1970, where she took a train through Botswana to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to find long-lost relatives from Scotland.
During her brief return to the city, she helped to set up the Manpower Recruitment Office. When she reached Cape Town, she spent six months helping to set up an architects’ practice. Having eventually found her relations - a surgeon and his family - in the capital Salisbury, she stayed and worked for a mining company.
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Unfortunately, back home her father had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was Mr Collishaw who first persuaded a then young-Eve to join the Young Conservatives at the Dove Street Club, marking the start of nearly 50 years of involvement in local politics.
Following his funeral in late 1971, she stayed close to her mother and moved back into her old room in Constitution Hill.
She worked for various companies in Norwich and London before eventually setting up Event Knitwear in 1983, her own business specialising in selling designer knitwear. At the time of its closure in 1993, the business had been trading from Bridewell Alley.
In 1945, she took on a franchise selling greetings cards with the Original Poster Company, while immersing herself in local politics from 1997. The following year, she bought Rufus, a Norfolk Terrier Cross Bedlington, who would continue to be her closest companion for 15 years.
Miss Collishaw represented Taverham at Norfolk Council from 1997 until 2009 and served Catton Grove at Norwich City Council from 2004 until 2011.
As Lord Mayor, with Tim O'Riordan as Sheriff of Norwich, the pair chose Voluntary Norfolk as their civic charity and helped to raise more than £22,000 for the organisation.
She also served as deputy to Antony Little, former leader of the Conservative group at City Hall, during his time at City Hall.
A life-long Norwich City Football Club fan, Miss Collishaw had been planning a return to politics in next month's elections and had been the Conservative candidate for Sewell Ward in the city and county council elections on May 6.
Before the pandemic, she continued to travel around the world to places including the Galapados and Easter Islands. She also kept in close contact will all of her extended family.
Many people from across the county have paid tribute. Her family described her as “independent and free-spirited”.
Her nephew, Bryce Collishaw, added: "She was always very active and uncomplaining despite ill health in her later years. She was very often seen walking her dog, Dandy, in Sewell Park and on the golden sands of Mundsley on the north Norfolk coast.
“She believed in free enterprise, individualism, care and support for the local community, and the power of voluntary work. She was a great supporter and champion of the people of Norwich. And her kindness - so rare in politics - was noted by everyone she worked with.
“She was an entrepreneur and a fearless and adventurous traveller. She was, above all, an immensely caring and kind person - not least to [myself], her niece, and her mother. She was very much loved and is greatly missed by all her family.”
An extensive chapter on Miss Collishaw appeared in the book The Lady Lord Mayors of Norwich 1923-2017 by local author, Phyllida Scrivens. The publication went on to win the Best Biography Prize at the East Anglian Book Awards in 2018.
Miss Collishaw died on April 21. Her funeral took place on May 5.