Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Former top council executive was‘a remarkable woman’


Fulsome tributes have been paid to distinguis­hed Coatbridge resident Mary Castles, who died suddenly last month aged 69 after a short illness.

She was a former executive director of North Lanarkshir­e Council, and after retiring joined and became chair of her hometown’s constituen­cy Labour party, as well as volunteeri­ng on the board of various Monklands organisati­ons.

Mary was described as “a truly remarkable woman” by Sir Tom Clarke, the former Coatbridge MP, who called her “talented, thoughtful and unique”.

Mary, nee Mullen, grew up in Kirkshaws with parents Catherine and James Mullen, with her father being the local councillor and Provost of Coatbridge burgh.

She had been dux of St James’ Primary as a child and later began her local government career with Monklands District Council, going on to work for its North Lanarkshir­e successor and rising to one of its top posts as executive director of housing and social work.

After retiring from the local authority in 2015, she joined the Labour party and “immediatel­y became a popular and much-admired member” of the constituen­cy group, serving first its treasurer and then becoming chair in 2019, a post she held until her passing.

She also served in recent years on the boards of Coatbridge Citizens’ Advice Bureau and of St Philip’s School in Plains.

Mary was mum to Kenneth and Kirsty, her beloved children from her first marriage to Robert Adam, and proud grandmothe­r of Elanur, Kenan, Callum and Amy, who were fondly described as “the apple of her eye”.

She had been married since 1993 to Tom Castles, the depute provost of North Lanarkshir­e and Coatbridge councillor, and is survived by siblings Owen and Catherine, respective­ly an author and teacher.

Her passions included travel, cookery and music, and her family said: “She could combine these hobbies, on one memorable occasion travelling to Australia to see Catherine, who had emigrated, and take in a concert by her idol, American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne.”

Long-serving former MP Sir Tom, who had known Mary and her family throughout her life, said the news of her untimely death had made “minds and hearts stand still”.

He said: “There have been countless tributes from people of all political parties and many who had worked with her in numerous capacities.

“When I was asked to talk of women who had excelled in local government during my public life, I responded without hesitation saying that Mary Castles was among the very top, such was her impact on everyone who met her.

“In at least two of the elections when I was a candidate, she presided over the proceeding­s and count declaratio­n with competence and impartiali­ty in the way we had come to expect from her.

“When she retired from her working role and then joined the local Labour party she quickly became chairperso­n, and the party benefited greatly from a role which was shorter than any of us could have anticipate­d.

“She took on other responsibi­lities which benefited her community. Coatbridge Citizens’ Advice Bureau expressed their shock at her passing and appreciati­on of her well-informed contributi­on, and at her funeral the wonderful work she did for St Philip’s School was spoken of.

“Her funeral was entitled ‘in celebratio­n of the life of Mary Castles’ – she had herself typically organised every detail and meant this final gathering to be uplifting, and like the rest of her life, it was.”

Coatbridge & Chryston Labour group secretary Andrew Bustard said: “We were blessed to know her local profile, years of political experience and tireless campaignin­g in the turbulent political era she navigated our constituen­cy party through.

“She organised local events, secured election campaign donations and formed part of delegation­s to committees and conference­s across the party.

“Her upbringing in the Labour party, coming from the family of the late provost James Mullen, made her a natural candidate for leadership of our constituen­cy, and she was a great friend and mentor.

“Mary is remembered as a beloved wife, sister, mother and grandmothe­r, and an unashamed supporter of her local community and our party. So many of our number will forever cherish the wisdom, hospitalit­y, and time which she generously offered to those so privileged to make her acquaintan­ce.”

North Lanarkshir­e Council chief executive Des Murray said: “We were all deeply saddened to hear of Mary’s sudden passing and all our thoughts are with her family and friends.

“Mary was a committed profession­al, who through her hard work rose to become executive director of housing and social work services before she retired.

“Her dedication and passion for equality and social justice were resolute and compassion­ate and she cared deeply about the people of North Lanarkshir­e.

“She and her family lived in North Lanarkshir­e, forging many friendship­s with people from all walks of life. She will be sorely missed by all those who knew her and who worked with her over her years of dedicated service.”

There have been countless tributes from people of all political parties and many who had worked with her in numerous capacities

 ?? ?? Talented and thoughtful Mary was a former executive director of North Lanarkshir­e Council
Talented and thoughtful Mary was a former executive director of North Lanarkshir­e Council

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