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Doreen Bellerby, Freeman of Guildford And Most Respected Local Politician Has Died Aged 95

Published on: 15 Mar, 2015
Updated on: 19 Mar, 2017

Retired local politician, campaigner and most respected Guildford resident Doreen Bellerby MBE has died aged 95.

Doreen Bellerby who has died aged 95. Pictures courtesy of Shirley West.

Doreen Bellerby who has died aged 95. Pictures courtesy of Shirley West.

Mrs Bellerby passed away at 1am on Sunday morning (March 15, 2015) at her Guildford home. Her husband, Bill, also a freeman of Guildford, was by her side.

For several decades the Bellerbys were a dynamic force in local politics – both as Guildford borough and Surrey county councillors, standing for the Labour Party. Doreen was a borough councillor for 41 years and a Surrey county councillor for 20, representing the Westborough ward.

She was Mayor of Guildford in 1991-92, made an alderman during the time of the former borough of Guildford (pre-1974) and she and Bill were made Freemen of the Borough of Guildford in 1995.

The former Bellerby Theatre was named after them; and in 2014, as recognition of their support to the local arts scene for over 50 years, G Live renamed its studio space The Bellerby Studio.

Bill and Doreen Bellerby when they were made Freemen of the Borough of Guildford.

Bill and Doreen Bellerby when they were made Freemen of the Borough of Guildford.

Doreen also was made an honorary graduate by the University of Surrey. The countless years she and her husband  spent working for the good of Guildford and its people are widely regarded to be exemplary.

Besides working for people locally, Doreen was a campaigner for women’s rights nationally. She was a member of a Government task group that brought in equal rights for women.

A true socialist, Doreen (like Bill) grew up in South Wales at a time of severe economic conditions. Her father was without work for four years and the family was sometimes in poverty.

Bill and Doreen on their wedding day.

Bill and Doreen on their wedding day.

She and Bill met in June 1939, and two years later they married.

During the Second World War, Bill joined the Queen’s Regiment and came to their depot, Stoughton Barracks. At one point he wrote to Doreen back home in South Wales requesting his dancing shoes to be sent up to him. Doreen came and delivered them personally and they stayed in Guildford together thereafter.

They entered local politics after the war in the 1950s.

Although they did not have any children themselves, it has been said that “the people of Guildford were their children”.

Guildford MP Anne Milton has paid tribute to Doreen Bellerby. This evening (Sunday) she said: “I was very sad to hear the news about Doreen today. She and Bill have been a large part of Guildford life for so many years.

“Our thoughts are with Bill and I am pleased that they were together in their own home when the end came.”

Guildford borough councillor for Stoke ward, Angela Gunning (Labour), adds this tribute: “‘Doreen was a great example to all us members of the Labour Party throughout her long membership of 70 years.

“She devoted her life to serving the community, giving her time and talents to both local and national issues; and in particular women’s issues.

“She served Guildford and Surrey as borough councillor and county councillor, as mayor, and eventually as Freeman  of the Borough. Not only did she participate in national politics such as the Commission on Equal Opportunities, but she was an enthusiastic fundraiser for Guildford Labour Party – jumble sales and raffles were her forte!

“We benefitted greatly from her skills of persuasion and sales techniques over many years.”

If you would like to add a tribute, or perhaps add some further details and memories of Doreen and her work, please leave a reply in the box below.

Bill and Doreen Bellerby cut a cake at the naming of The Bellerby Studio at G Live in their honour in 2014. Picture by Martin Giles.

Bill and Doreen Bellerby cut a cake at the naming of The Bellerby Studio at G Live in their honour in 2014. Picture by Martin Giles.


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Responses to Doreen Bellerby, Freeman of Guildford And Most Respected Local Politician Has Died Aged 95

  1. Chris Ward Reply

    March 15, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Doreen was a wonderful person, and good fun too! She was always very helpful to me when I was on the council. Such very sad news and my thoughts are with Bill. Guildford has lost a formidable figure and a genuinely lovely community servant.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    March 15, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    A Lady that put the well being of the people of Guildford before all else.

    A rare attribute indeed in these present days !

  3. Fiona White Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Hon Freeman Doreen Bellerby was Mayor of Guildford when I was first elected to the borough council.

    She was a passionate and principled politician who cared deeply for the community she represented and Guildford as a whole.

    I have always had huge respect for her and Bill. My sympathies go to Bill who will miss her very much.

  4. Sue Fox Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Doreen was a wonderful, funny woman whom it was an inspiration to know and work alongside despite being from different political parties. She will be sadly missed but not forgotten.

  5. Bernard Parke Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    It was Bill’s 98th birthday last Friday.

  6. Julian Lyon Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I am really pleased to see Sue Fox’s reference to Doreen’s sense of humour.

    I grew up here in Guildford and regularly saw the Bellerbys at Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra concerts from an early age and at other events.

    Doreen always had a twinkle in her eye and a quick wit which she had not lost the last time I saw her.

    Unlike so many politicians, Doreen (and Bill) had a rapport with people of all ages and always seemed to enjoy interactions at all levels.

    My heart goes out to Bill and their family who will miss her so much, as will Guildford.

    In our sadness, though, let’s celebrate the life of someone who moved here in the 1940s and contributed so unbelievably much to our town, borough and county. Thank you Doreen.

  7. David and Ann Bailey Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Doreen was a lovely lady who will be sadly missed by all of us who had the privilege of calling her a friend.

  8. Mary Bedforth Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    This is a beautiful tribute to a fine woman who did so much for others. She had such great energy.

    Condolences to Bill on this sad news.

  9. Sheila Atkinson Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Doreen will be a big loss to Guildford and an even bigger loss to Bill. We send him our love and sympathy.

  10. Graham Collyer Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    So sad to hear of the death of Doreen.

    She and Bill were an integral part of Guildford life long before I met them on joining the Surrey Advertiser in 1979.

    Throughout my time as deputy and then editor of the newspaper from 1982-2001 they were very supportive.

    They were always so interested in what was happening in the town, and fun to be with. Ann and I have thought of them often since being in Devon.

  11. Shirley and Brian West Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    I visited Bill and Doreen on Saturday. I feel very honoured to think I was a able to say goodbye to her – she could still find that lovely smile for me.

    I have lost a wonderful friend and supporter to all my community work in Guildford. She was a such an intesting lady to speak to. I loved to hear her stories of her life.

    I thank Doreen for all she has given to Guildford and all the local people she helped in her political life.

    My heart goes out to Bill now losing his lifelong love. What a marriage – coming up for 74 years and still so much in love.

    Right to the end he never left her side.

    Than you Doreen for everything, and you too, Bill.

    Love Shirley and Brian West

  12. Shirley West Reply

    March 18, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Thank you for including the pictures of Doreen – now everyone will know how lovely she looked.

    I visited Bill yesterday (Tuesday) and I am able to tell everyone that he is holding up very well.

    A big big thank you to the wonderful carers who looked after Doreen and now Bill, and also thanks to the other special friends who have supported them both over the last few years.

  13. Melanie Hiblen Reply

    March 18, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    What a wonderful fulfilling life she led. Someone who cared and did something about it and by the looks of things, an example to us all. RIP lady and thank you for all you did. x

  14. Iain Elsey Reply

    March 21, 2015 at 12:40 am

    I cried when I heard the news.

    Both Doreen and Bill were “Mr and Mrs Guildford”.

    They did so much for the town and expected nothing in return.

    Bill has lost his soul mate and I can’t think of them ever being apart.

    Honorary Freeman Doreen Bellerby MBE thank you and rest in peace!


  15. Pete Brayne Reply

    March 23, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Bill and Doreen would regularly eat at the YMCA restaurant in Bridge Street and I loved to welcome them and have a brief chat. They always had a smile on their face and a cheerful greeting for everyone. They were legends in their time.

  16. Linda Heather Tickridge Reply

    March 27, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    We were all so sad to hear the news of Mrs Guildford’s passing.

    Doreen was such a lovely lady. She helped my family and friends in many ways when we needed it the most.
    Doreen will be so missed by the people of Guildford, our hearts go out to Bill and his family.

  17. Marion Theros Reply

    April 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Throughout my childhood I always remember Bill and Doreen as good fiends of my parents. All of them loved to dance.

    I remember Bill riding his bike and sometimes leaving it at our house while he visited people in the neighbourhood. They graciously spoke at my parents funerals and I am truly grateful for that.

    I am so sorry for the loss of Doreen and wish Bill all the very best. It will be a big change for him to not have her by his side. I think of them every April as we shared the same wedding anniversary date. My love to Bill.

  18. Fiona Shelfer Reply

    March 18, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Where do I start? I met Doreen and Bill Bellerby at a concert I gave at the Guildhall in Guildford and they were so supportive and kind. They were always at my concerts from then on and I want to thank them for their patronage of the arts, especially towards young people.

    My love and prayers are with Bill and the family. Doreen lived a full life, caring for those who needed help and with an energy that you don’t see now. Thanks to them both and God bless.

  19. Derek Pollard Reply

    March 18, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Having lived in or near Guildford all my life I have always seen Doreen and Bill as a such a fine example to us all of community service at its very best.

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