Merton mourns the loss of respected councillor

Merton Council is mourning the loss of Councillor Gam Gurung who passed away on Monday 24 June at the age of 53.

Gam had been suffering from cancer for some time and, with typical strength of character, fought the disease bravely to the end.

A former Gurkha soldier, Gam had been a leading light in the Nepalese community in Britain for many years. Despite his condition, Gam had the opportunity to return to his native Nepal earlier this year to open a school in his honour.

He was the country’s first ever Gurkha Labour Councillor and was a tutor at Carshalton College in Surrey. In April, Councillor Gurung was recognised for his contribution to education at the Merton Civic Awards 2013, when he was shortlisted from over 100 entries for the Best Teacher category.

Leader of Merton Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “The news of Gam’s death is very sad for all who knew and worked with him. He was a kind man who chose a life of public service, representing the residents of Colliers Wood following election in 2010. In his three years on Merton Council, he showed dedication, commitment and loyalty, and won many friends in the community, as well as in our group. Our thoughts and prayers are with his lovely family and friends. He was a very kind and courageous man, and will be sorely missed by all.”

Leader of the Conservative Group, Councillor Oonagh Moulton said: “I would like to send my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Councillor Gam Gurung. I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Councillor Gurung’s passing. His election to Merton Council in 2010 as a councillor for Colliers Wood ward meant that a Gurkha became a member of the council for the first time in its history. Councillor Gurung will be remembered with great affection by colleagues from across the chamber and I know that many of them will wish to pay a fuller tribute to him at the next council meeting.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor Iain Dysart, said: “He was a very lovely man, equally passionate in advocating for his community as with building bridges with and between all communities. He will be sorely mourned and missed.”

Leader of the Merton Park Independents, Councillor Peter Southgate said: ‘In his quiet way, Gam was an extraordinary man who achieved much for the Gurkha community in Merton, as well as the residents of Colliers Wood. We will all miss him.’

Leader of the Merton Coalition, Councillor Suzanne Evans said: “The Merton Coalition was shocked to hear of the death of Gam Gurung. All councillors who worked with him will miss his quiet determination to do his best for his residents, as well as his sense of humour – he did amuse us with the odd good joke in the council chamber. Councillor Chris Edge has particularly fond memories of him as he presided over his wife’s UK Citizenship ceremony when Deputy Mayor, and we all offer our sincere condolences to his family.”

Councillor Gam Gurung’s family are welcoming those who would like to pay their last respects at his funeral on Thursday 4 July at Morden Assembly Hall, Tudor Drive, Morden. The cremation will take place at North East Surrey Crematorium, Lower Morden Lane, Morden.

Please see below for the full funeral arrangements:

10-10.50am – Mourners arrive at Assembly Hall

11am – Close family and friends arrive at Assembly Hall

11.10am – Horse carriage with coffin arrives at Assembly Hall

11.20am -12.45pm – Formal programme and wreath/flower presentation

12.50pm – Procession to the crematorium. All are requested to follow the procession.

1.20pm – Crematorium (family members only inside the crematorium).

1.45pm – Funeral reception at Assembly Hall. All are welcome.

Councillor Gurung’s widow has requested no donations.

There will be a condolence and register book at the main assembly hall. If you would like to send a card or message of condolence to Gam’s family, please send it to Kabita Gurung, 3 The Sanctuary, Morden, SM4 5NX.

Anyone wishing to present a wreath or flowers on behalf of an association, please contact Rag Purja, Chairman South London Nepalese Gurkha Association on 07886 8607027.