A Lewisham councillor who passed away recently was described at a meeting of full council on Wednesday (March 3) as someone “who always saw the best in people” and fought tirelessly for her residents .  

Bellingham ward Councillor Sue Hordijenko grew up in Gloucester but moved to Lewisham in 1985 to do a degree in French and drama at Goldsmiths. 

She became a councillor for Bellingham in 2016 after a by-election.  

Lewisham Council announced that she had passed away last month.  

Last night Cllr Hordijenko’s colleagues paid tribute to her “selfless generosity” and compassion for others.   

Her close friend, Cllr Liam Curran, said: “Our friend Sue Hordijenko commanded your attention. When you attended an event or went to a restaurant or the pub with her, heads would turn.  

“Initially it was the bright red hair. Then it was the loud raucous laugh and then it was the friendliness, generosity, and firm no-nonsense attitude. 

“Sue was a bon viveur and we shouldn’t be surprised if the share values of red hair dye, white wine, gin, and cat food have plummeted recently. 

“Of course, Sue was so much more than that. She was a fiercely intelligent woman who wore her intelligence lightly.” 

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Cllr Curran added: “I walked past Sue’s house yesterday to check on it and I still can’t believe she is no longer there.  

“Every day since, just walking down the street, I’ll suddenly see the bright red hair of some other woman and it catches my heart because I instantly think of Sue. We will all miss her.” 

Cllr Curran also read out a statement from Cllr Hordijenko’s cousins, Declan, Cath, and Nora.  

They said: “Sue was a vibrant woman who fought for a society founded on equality and compassion.  

“She was a dedicated member of the Labour Party and a person who would never ignore injustice.  

“She sought to hold those in power to account and was driven to keep them honest.  

“She inspired us all. As a young girl her auburn curls grew to be a representation of her strong spirit, inherited from the steely resolve of the Irish patriots.  

“It’s difficult to accept that such a life force is no longer walking this earth. She will be deeply missed by all of her family and Sue remains much loved.” 

Speaker Cllr Tauseef Anwar thanked Cllr Curran for his “kind words”, 

“They were clearly coming from the deepest of your heart,” he said.  

As councillors paid tribute to Cllr Hordijenko, they spoke of her past achievements.  

She was director of programmes at the British Science Association, an inspiring group fitness leader, a media mentor for the UK Resource Centre for Women, where she offered free training for women engineers early in their careers. 

Cllr Hordijenko was also an active member of Phoenix Community Housing and joined the Welcome Trust in 1994.   

She appeared on Newsnight wearing a dress entirely made out of used cigarette butts in a bid to highlight the dangers of spoking while pregnant.

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Her Bellingham colleagues Cllr Jacq Paschoud and Cllr Alan Hall both paid tribute to her at the meeting, as did Cllr Caroline Kalu and Mayor Damien Egan.  

They said she was a very caring person who persistently worked for her community, had a great sense of humour, and never had a bad word to say about anyone.  

Mayor Egan said: “Local politics can at times be a difficult world to navigate – there are difficult characters and precious egos, scheming gossip.  

“Yet we mustn’t forget that there are also very many good people and Sue was one of those good people. She really cared.” 

Cllr Paschoud said: “No one in Bellingham was ever alone with a problem if Sue could become involved. She championed those she perceived as going unheard.” 

Cllr Hall said: “Sue Hordijenko was a charismatic and compassionate politician and public engagement was her game.  

“She supported local residents – one example is the family of a murdered young man in Bellingham.  

“This was at a time of heightened community tension and her empathetic nature shone through as she tenaciously fought for their housing and welfare needs.” 

Cllr Hall also said the last time he saw Cllr Hordijenko was when she turned up at Bell Green to join the GMB on the picket line in support of British Gas workers. 

Cllr Kalu said: “I wondered how to express the amazing essence and spirit of Sue – her selfless generosity, her uncompromising belief in all that it is good, her unwavering commitment to her friends. 

“Words cannot pay tribute or truly capture the sense of loss that we’re all feeling today.” 

A video with images of Sue starting from childhood, provided by her family, was played at the meeting and followed by a minute of silence.