TRIBUTES have been paid to former Abergavenny Mayor, Sheila Woodhouse, who died on Monday.

Mrs Woodhouse served as the town’s mayor 2013-14 taking over from the late Samantha Dodd as only the fifth woman to hold the office. Mrs Woodhouse’s husband Chris also served as a town and county councillor and himself was Mayor of Abergavenny in 2004

Abergavenny born and bred, after leaving school at St Albans RC School and Monmouth Comprehensive School, Mrs Woodhouse spent 32 years working for the Post Office, starting as a telephonist and graduating to branch manager. 

Monmouthshire County Council’s Chairman Sheila Woodhouse

As well as being mayoress of Abergavenny in 2004 she also served as consort when her husband was elected as Chairman  of Monmouthshire County Council in 2007. 

Several years later she was to take on the role of chairman in her own right promising to make sure all opinions were ‘heard and heard fairly’.

During a long career in public service Mrs Woodhouse was involved in many local groups, including the former Penyfal Hospital League of Friends, Harold Road Junior School governing body, WRVS, Nevill Hall League of Friends, Abergavenny/Oestringen Twinning Association and the Gateway Club with which she was involved with for almost 40 years.

She was also a founder member and longtime secretary of Abergavenny Mind Association and President of AAODS, a role she took over from former Honorary Burgess of Abergavenny, the late Alan Breeze.

Mrs Woodhouse was a proud ambassador for Abergavenny and speaking at her mayor making in 2013 she called on the people of the town to ‘talk it up, not run it down’.

"When you tell people where you live they say you are so lucky and we are indeed fortunate to live here,” she said.

For those of us that Sheila touched, her warmth will stay in our hearts

Paul Matthews

A spokesperson for Abergavenny Town Council said, ”Sheila Woodhouse served her community with dignity and grace.  

“She had great presence and carried herself throughout her duties serving as both a town and county councillor, as Mayor of Abergavenny, and Chair of Monmouthshire County Council, with an assured confidence. 

"Her amazing kindness shone through in her commitment to the community she served, with stalwart support for everyone around her.  Sheila was a pillar of the community, and she will be sadly missed.”

Liz Davies, chairman of A4B the group supporting local amateur theatre companies said that Mrs Woodhouse has been a staunch supporter of the Borough Theatre and its amateur community for many years.

“We were always grateful for the support Sheila and Chris offered to A4B. They were regular guests at our annual awards presentation night and great advocates for the theatre wherever they went,” she said.

Jill Murray of AAODS said, “When Sheila agreed to become our president she undertook the role with great dignity and championed our society at every juncture, even becoming a registered chaperone to help accompany our Juniors, as well as other drama societies’ children, in their shows.

“ A truly lovely lady who charmed everyone and gave her time selflessly, she will be greatly missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing her.

“Our deepest condolences to Chris and all her family.”

Chief Executive Paul Matthews of Monmouthshire County Council also paid tribute to Sheila via social media, commending her incredible service to the county.

He said: “It is with the deepest sense of sadness that I share the news of the passing of former County Councillor Sheila Woodhouse. Sheila had been ill for several months and passed peacefully this morning.

“Sheila was an amazing woman. She served as Chairperson of Monmouthshire County Council on two separate occasions, a rare honour. She provided leadership through the most challenging moments of the COVID Pandemic. Sheila absolutely got that it was all about protecting life at that time and other things just had to wait.

“She was a huge source of strength and support to me and so many others. Sheila was a member of several council committees and was involved in more voluntary activity than I can come close to cataloguing. Sheila performed her roles within the council with diligence and grace. She was always prepared but never fixed. She was openminded and always interested in the opinions of others.

“Sheila knew what it meant to be a Monmouthshire County Councillor. She loved her ward and her town of Abergavenny with a passion but always understood that at times she had to see a bigger picture. She was always prepared to do so. She was calm, kind, caring and welcoming. As good an ambassador as we have ever had particularly in her years as first citizen, a role that she felt honoured to hold.

“I had the pleasure of working with Sheila personally. I loved it. I got to see the warmth of a very special woman. More than that I got to see the depth of her professionalism born of an earlier career in the Post Office. Sheila had standards and you just always wanted to match them. On many an occasion after chairing a council meeting Sheila would ask me "Did I do ok". She wanted to do her best. My answer was always "you were perfect" - I just felt she was.

“A bright light in the history of our organisation has dimmed today but it hasn't gone out. For those of us that Sheila touched, her warmth will stay in our hearts. God speed Sheila to a pain free place. I will pass on the condolences of the organisation to Sheila's husband Chris and to her family and friends. We will be there to support them in any way they wish over the coming weeks and months.”

Mrs Woodhouse’s funeral will take place on Monday, July 1 at 11am at St Mary’s Church in Abergavenny.