Sheila McWattie

Sheila McWattie

TRIBUTES have been paid to a campaigner, journalist and co-founder of the Free Pride festival who has died suddenly, aged 56.

Sheila McWattie, of York Road, Hove, was a fundraiser for the Brighton’s Women’s Centre, Cancer Research and various causes related to Pride.

One of the organisers of the Women’s Performance Tent at the festival, she was a key figure in setting up a free alternative when Pride began charging for the Preston Park celebrations in 2011. Brighton Pride have announced that the Women’s Performance Tent will now be named after her.

Pride organisers have agreed to rename The Women’s Tent as the Sheila McWattie Tent for this year’s event.

She taught a number of creative writing courses both for marginalised authors hoping to make a living from their work and held workshops for vulnerable people.

Originally from Paisley in Scotland, Sheila first came to Brighton because of her work as a supported housing development manager for homeless women.

She wrote articles for and worked as a sub-editor across various titles at Crawley-based William Reed Business Media, and also provided articles on community issues for The Argus.

She also provided PR for Brighton-based Romany, Diva of Magic – one of only 80 female magicians to be a member of the magic circle.

Friend and colleague Jessica Mason, said: “Sheila was one of the brightest, kindest people I knew.

“She was interested in others and had such an incredibly positive outlook that she brightened everyone’s day.

“Not only was she a talented writer, teacher and campaigner, she was a dear friend – thoughtful and selfless.”

Garth Williams, chief sub-editor for William Reed’s drinks division, added: ‘’Not only was Sheila one of the kindest and most thoughtful people you could hope to meet, she was also a very fine sub-editor.

“She had an empathy with the way people tried to put their stories across, while combining this with an attention to detail that few possess. We will miss her contribution enormously.’’

Friends are asked to add their memories to the Celebrating Sheila McWattie Facebook group.