Former Kingston mayor and women’s cycling pioneer Eileen Gray has died.

Mrs Gray, previously the president of the British Cycling Federation, vice chair of the British Olympic Committee, women’s freemason and an MBE and CBE recipient, died on Wednesday, May 20 aged 95.

Your Local Guardian:

Eileen Gray aged 92 

During the 2012 London Olympics the Surbiton resident was one of the oldest torchbearers aged 92 and even featured in Kingston’s souvenir guide for the games.

Former Kingston mayor Councillor Ken Smith said: “She was a marvellous woman. You don’t often come across a woman of her standing. Her enthusiasm was infectious and in her time she really took on womens rights to a new height. It is incredibly sad news to hear about her.”

He added Mrs Gray had particularly enjoyed a visit from a member of the British Cycling Association he had arranged to her nursing home shortly before she died.

Your Local Guardian:

Eileen Gray with the Queen 

New Kingston mayor Roy Arora said: “Eileen was an extraordinary person and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her. She moved to Kingston just after the war when her husband got a job working for Kingston Council.

“In 1946 she was part of the first ever Women's British Cycling Team which competed in (and won) an international competition in Copenhagen. That was the beginning of her tireless journey of getting Women’s cycling on the sporting map.”

Your Local Guardian:

Eileen Gray (far left) competing in Copenhagen in 1946 as part of the first ever Women's British Cycling Team

Mrs Gray attended 16 Olympic Games and even mucked in to help make the cycling track at Herne Hill Velodrome fit for purpose for the 1948 Olympic Games.

In 2013 when organisers of the Prudential Ride London decided only the men’s cycling races would come through the royal borough, she told the Surrey Comet: “I think the girls should get stuck in like I used to when I wanted something.

"If you want something these days you have to fight for it."

Mrs Gray, a great-grandmother, was born in Bermondsey and later moved to Dulwich. She discovered cycling during the Second World War. 

Your Local Guardian:

Eileen Gray being shown a display about her life at New Malden library. Pic credit: Julian McCarthy 

During her lifetime she championed women’s cycling in Britain and even founded the Women’s Cycling Racing Association.

She also served the community as president of Sport Kingston while also chairing the London Youth Games Board for more than 30 years.

In 2010 she was also inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame for her contribution to the sport.