Tributes to 'devoted' Maidenhead stalwart following death at 97

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Rudi Sheldon pictured with a photograph of him and his late wife Adrienne on their wedding day in France in 1953

A former Royal Borough councillor and long time Maidenhead resident has passed away at the age of 97 after decades of service to education, politics and community groups.

Ralph ‘Rudi’ Sheldon died at Wexham Park Hospital on Wednesday, November 24 after complications from a fractured hip.

Born in what was then known as Breslau, Germany in the 1920s (now Wroclaw, Poland), Rudi moved to the UK in 1936 just before the Second World War.

He joined the RAF towards the end of the conflict but the war ended before he was required to carry out any active duties.

Rudi went into teaching at East Barnet Grammar School where he met his late wife, Adrienne, whom he married in her home country of France in 1953.

His earlier career in education saw him advance from a geography teacher to a headmaster role.

The pair had three sons – Jack, Richard and Philip – and moved to Maidenhead in 1966, staying in the town for the rest of their lives after a brief stay in Worsley, Greater Manchester.

Adrienne – a former Royal Borough mayor and Liberal Democrat councillor – passed away in 2019 aged 90.

Rudi was also very much involved in politics, taking on the role of a councillor, deputy mayor and mayor’s escort in the 1980s and 1990s, representing the same political party as his wife.

But it was his dedicated service to community organisations that made him a part of Maidenhead history.

Rudi spent 50 years with the Maidenhead Music Society and was a founding member of the Windsor and Maidenhead Symphony Orchestra.

He was also – up until recently – part of the Maidenhead Civic Society’s planning group and a founding trustee of arts centre Norden Farm.

A lover of sport, Rudi would often be found at Maidenhead Rugby Club watching Maids and enjoyed taking part in a painting class up until his death.

Tennis was another favourite, with Rudi becoming a long-standing member of the short tennis ‘Half Century’ group for over 50s (pictured below with Joe Mcullach).

Son Richard recalled another of his key passions. He said: “His great passion has always been music – he really believed that the arts could make people think more of each other and have more respect for one another.

“He even wrote an opera called ‘Margaret of Maidenhead’, which was put on at Norden Farm.”

Richard added: “He was very committed to the community and really right to the end of his days – he was still involved in planning for the Civic Society until pretty much the end.

“He was very much involved, always had opinions and felt very strongly for the community.

“He always loved sport – he was a great fan of rugby which he played in his early days and then became a referee. He was quite active and continued that later into his life.”

No dates have yet been arranged for Rudi’s funeral, but Richard said it will be a private family service, with a celebration of Rudi’s life planned for the new year.

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