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Crawley Southgate Councillor and former Mayor dies

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Southgate Councillor Raj Sharma passed away yesterday it has been announced.

Raj was Mayor of Crawley in 2016/17 and 2019/20 and represented Southgate as a ward member since 2014.

A statement from Crawley Council said:

“He will be sorely missed by staff, members and the Crawley communities in which he was passionately involved in. He was very proud of what he achieved and was able to raise for his charities during his two years as Mayor of Crawley. “

Raj was born in Delhi, India, in 1952. His love of youth and community work began in 1976.

He continued this when he moved to Crawley in 1992 at Crawley Boys Club/Crawley Youth Centre until 2020. 

A minute’s silence will be observed at the next Full Council meeting on Wednesday 24 February.

The council added:

“Our thoughts are with Raj’s wife, Bhavna, his family and friends.”

Funeral details will be shared when known and the Crawley flag will fly at half-mast on the day of the funeral.

Crawley Council Leader Peter Lamb said:

“Raj Sharma was one of the kindest, most generous men I’ve ever known. His long history of service to Crawley’s stretches back far beyond his time on the council, helping generations of local children to grow and find confidence through his years as a youth worker and playing a leading role in many of the town’s community groups. He will forever be remembered as Crawley’s first Hindu Mayor and someone totally committed to our town. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

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Crawley College to reopen following incident

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Crawley College will be beginning a phased reopening to students from tomorrow, Thursday 29 April.

The phased reopening will take place between tomorrow and Tuesday 4 May with full details by courses provided on the college website www.crawley.ac.uk . Students should check details before returning to campus.

The campus has remained closed for the past two days following police investigations into the incident that took place at the college on Monday (26 April).

Vicki Illingworth, Principal of Crawley College, said:

“We are looking forward to welcoming our students and staff back to the college.

“We’d like to reassure everyone, the college is safe and they will be well supported in their return to the campus.

“Sussex Police have confirmed that this is being treated as an isolated incident which is not terror related and nobody else is being sought in connection with the incident.  The individual concerned is in police custody and has been charged.”

“We are now focussed on ensuring we can bring students and staff safely back on site. We’re proud of the service we provide to our students to give them opportunities in education and training.

“I can reassure everyone that this was a one-off incident and we have strategies in place to keep everyone as safe as possible, as well as giving the students the support they need to come back and join us to complete their studies successfully.”

Vicki also echoed her earlier comments, paying tribute to the staff who supported students who were on site during the events of Monday afternoon.

She added:

“I continue to remain full of admiration of our team. They pulled together on Monday and implemented all of the protocols we have in place to keep students safe.

“They’ve continued to work together to support each other and their students over the past couple of days – and they will continue to do so when students return to campus.

“We are also particularly proud of the two members of staff who acted so bravely and swiftly to apprehend the individual before the police arrived. They acted selflessly to protect their students and the college community. They have asked for privacy during this time.

“It was a very intense time for everyone involved.

“The students who were kept inside the college and who were part of the emergency evacuation were supported throughout by our staff and counselling services have been available to them this week. These services will continue to be in place for them to access.

“We’ve continued to be in touch with our students through our support services to check that they are ok and we will resume face-to-face counselling as soon as we can.”

Work is taking place at the college campus to repair some damage which was sustained during the evacuation and subsequent investigations, with teams working hard to ensure the campus is ready for reopening.

The college would like to thank students, staff, the Police and Emergency Services and the wider community for their ongoing support and understanding.

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