Tributes paid to James Shera MBE

JAMES Shera, a Freeman of the Borough of Rugby, has died.
Tributes have been paid to Dr James Shera, who passed away at the weekend.
15 January 2024
The council

The former Mayor of Rugby was visiting family in his native Pakistan when he passed away at the weekend. He was 76 and leaves a wife and son.

Dr Shera dedicated 40 years' service to the borough, first elected to Rugby Borough Council as a Labour councillor in 1982 to represent the Benn Ward.

He made history in 1988 when he became the first Pakistani to be elected Mayor of Rugby, and four years later he became one of the first recipients of the prestigious Star of Pakistan, awarded by the president of Pakistan for services to community and interfaith relations.

Dr Shera was made an MBE in 2007 and a decade later was made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Rugby - the highest honour the borough council can bestow.

He stood down from the council in 2022.

Born in a small rural village, Dr Shera's journey towards playing a pivotal role in Rugby's public life began when he secured a scholarship to study at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

He hitch-hiked through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia before reaching Italy, where he caught a train to Belgium to start his studies.

Friends in the UK led Dr Shera to England in 1970 and a job at Rugby station as a railway guard. After completing a post-graduate degree at the University of Warwick, he became a teacher at Newbold Middle School, later joining the county council education department where he worked until taking retirement.

In a joint statement, Rugby Borough Council group leaders Cllr Derek Poole (Conservative), Cllr Michael Moran (Labour) and Cllr Jerry Roodhouse (Liberal Democrats) said: "James Shera, or Jim as we came to know him, was greatly respected by councillors on all sides of the chamber and was also a good friend and mentor to many of his council colleagues.

"Jim's hard work and integrity were a constant throughout his 40 years of public service, and we're all truly saddened to hear of his passing.

"Our thoughts remain firmly with Jim's family and friends at this time."

The council intends to fly the borough flag at half-mast on the day of Mr Shera's funeral.