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Theresa May leads mourners at Sir Jeremy Heywood’s memorial service

Theresa May today led tributes to Britain’s former top civil servant Sir Jeremy Heywood – who worked for the past five prime ministers and died aged 56 just ten days after retiring from No 10.

The former Cabinet Secretary lost his battle with cancer last November and was remembered at a memorial service attended by 2,000 mourners at Westminster Abbey this afternoon. 

Mrs May, who said he worked tirelessly’ in the service of the country including trying to deliver Brexit, was joined by former Tory prime minister Sir John Major, ex-chancellor George Osborne and a number of her serving ministers including Matt Hancock, James Brokenshire and Amber Rudd.

She told the memorial service: ‘The legend of Britain’s Civil Service should no longer be the fictional story of Sir Humphrey but rather the true story of Sir Jeremy, the greatest public servant of our time’. 

Sir Jeremy also worked for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and leading Labour figures from the era including Ed and David Miliband, Jack Straw, Ed Balls and Alastair Campbell were also at the abbey.

In tributes read to the congregation, David Cameron said Lord Heywood, who helped him broker the coalition deal with Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems, had a ‘deep, moral sense of right and wrong’ and was a man of ‘genuine ability, talent and brain’.

Former Labour PM Tony Blair said: ‘He was calm in crisis, his fellow staff adored him and I depended on him and when he was gone I felt his absence like an ache’ while his successor Gordon Brown said: ‘I know of no public servant who achieved more in such a short time’.

Ex-pm Sir John Major, whose administration put Sir Jeremy in the Treasury to help Chancellor Norman Lamont fight back after Black Wednesday in 1992, said: ‘Jeremy was a dedicated public servant who served with professionalism, dignity and grace’.  

Theresa May today led tributes to Britain’s former top civil servant Sir Jeremy Heywood who died aged 56 just ten days after retiring from No 10

Sir John Major and his wife Norma were also at the service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey this afternoon

Dotcom trailblazer and cross-bench peer Baroness Lane-Fox was also there

Sir John Major and his wife Norma (together left) were also at the service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey this afternoon along with dotcom trailblazer and cross-bench peer Baroness Lane-Fox (right)

Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Heywood (left in 2015 and right with wife Suzanne at Buckingham Palace in 2012) retired from a 30-year Civil Service career just ten days later

Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Heywood (pictured with wife Suzanne at Buckingham Palace in 2012) retired from a 30-year Civil Service career last October and died ten days later

Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Heywood (left in 2015 and right with wife Suzanne at Buckingham Palace in 2012) retired from a 30-year Civil Service career last October and died ten days later

Brothers Ed Miliband and David Miliband (pictured), who famously fought over the Labour leadership, arrived separately for the memorial service

Brothers Ed Miliband and David Miliband (pictured), who famously fought over the Labour leadership, arrived separately for the memorial service

Brothers Ed Miliband and David Miliband, who famously fought over the Labour leadership, arrived separately for the memorial service

Tributes to ex-Cabinet Secretary who worked for Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and May in his 30-year career

Jeremy Heywood  enjoyed an illustrious 30-year career at the heart of power, working under the past five prime ministers.

Lord Heywood played a crucial role in the formation of Britain’s first coalition government in decades after the 2010 election, overseeing talks between David Cameron and Nick Clegg. 

He worked closely with four Prime Ministers and sat at the right hand of both David Cameron and Theresa May as the Cabinet Secretary. 

Before that he worked for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as Labour took power between 1997 and 2010. 

Lord Heywood was at times a controversial figure during his tenure and branded ‘Sir Cover Up’ by critics furious at his handling of Parliamentary inquires.

He has been unpopular with Brexiteers suspicious the Civil Service is not committed to delivering on the EU referendum result.   

He is survived by his wife of 22 years Suzanne and three children, including twins. Mrs Heywood said after his death that her husband, calling him: ‘My Jeremy’.

She said: ‘Jeremy could light up any room or conversation and loved hosting a good party.’  

Lord Heywood revealed in the year he died that he had been diagnosed with cancer in June 2017, but remained in post during a summer of political upheaval triggered by the shock snap general election called by Theresa May.

He took a leave of absence in June and announced on October 24 that he was stepping down, with acting Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill taking over the role on a permanent basis.

Ten days after leaving No 10 for the last time he died. 

Sir Mark Sedwill had said ‘we will miss him more than we can say’, praising Lord Heywood’s ‘extraordinary insight’.

The Cabinet Secretary is the post powerful post in the Civil Service and crucial adviser at the right hand of the Prime Minister. Lord Heywood was made Cabinet Secretary in 2012 and made head of the Civil Service in 2014.

Mr Heywood previously served as principal private secretary to prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, chief of staff to Mr Brown and Downing Street permanent secretary to David Cameron.

Earlier in his career he had worked for Tory Chancellor Norman Lamont and helped to ease the impact of Black Wednesday in 1992.  

Prime Ministers of both major parties found him invaluable and Gordon Brown brought him back to Whitehall after he had temporarily left the civil service to work in the City.  

Lord Armstrong, who was Cabinet Secretary for Margaret Thatcher between 1979 and 1987, was among the civil servants to attend today's event

Lord Armstrong, who was Cabinet Secretary for Margaret Thatcher between 1979 and 1987, was among the civil servants to attend today’s event

Democratic Unionist Party MP Nigel Dodds, who was central to Brexit talks while Sir Jeremy was in No 10, also joined his family and friends at a service of thanksgiving

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire

Democratic Unionist Party MP Nigel Dodds, who was central to Brexit talks while Sir Jeremy was in No 10, also joined his family and friends at a service of thanksgiving along with Housing Secretary James Brokenshire

Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis was among the 2,000 mourners

Education Secretary Damian Hind

Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis was among the 2,000 mourners along with Education Secretary Damian Hinds

He was made a member of the House of Lords on October 26, two days after his retirement, and made Lord Heywood of Whitehall. 

During an illustrious 30-year career at the heart of power, Lord Heywood played a crucial role in the formation of Britain’s first coalition government in decades after the 2010 election, overseeing talks between David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

He worked closely with four Prime Ministers and sat at the right hand of both David Cameron and Theresa May as the Cabinet Secretary. 

Lord Heywood was at times a controversial figure during his tenure and branded ‘Sir Cover Up’ by critics furious at his handling of Parliamentary inquires.

He has been unpopular with Brexiteers suspicious the Civil Service is not committed to delivering on the EU referendum result. 

Alistair Campbell and partner Fiona Millar arrive for a service of thanksgiving for the life and work of former Cabinet Secretary

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was at the event

Alistair Campbell and partner Fiona Millar arrive for a service of thanksgiving for the life and work of former Cabinet Secretary followed by former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

Labour MP Yvette Cooper and her husband, former shadow chancellor and Strictly star Ed Balls were also there to pay their respects

Labour MP Yvette Cooper and her husband, former shadow chancellor and Strictly star Ed Balls were also there to pay their respects 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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