Prior to his election, Mr Wicks chaired the Croydon Labour Party and he stood several times for Croydon Council.

In 1987, he unsuccessfully contested the Croydon North-West seat, but five years later in 1992 he stood again and overcame a majority of nearly 4,000 to win his seat from the Conservatives.

This marked the first time Labour had captured the seat, and Mr Wicks held the constituency when it was redrawn as Croydon North in 1997.

He cared deeply about improving social policy and in 1999 pledged his support to the NSPCC’s Full Stop campaign. He maintained a keen interest in local organisations and was Vice-President of South-East Cancer Centre and the Croydon Philharmonic Choir.

Mr Wicks was also a Board member of the Croydon-based London Mozart Players and a patron of the West Croydon Refugee Centre, the Bangladesh Welfare Association and Friends of Parchmore.

His love for the local community was evident and in 2002, he became the first Croydon Street Champion in a bid to get people to improve their neighbourhood. He was also heavily involved in the Green Guardian environmental campaign.

He was re-elected in 2005 with a majority of 13,888 and in 2010 with an increased majority of 16,483.

He backed the Croydon Guardian’s ‘Save Our Heritage’ campaign in 2010 with the future of Croydon’s local studies library, museum and arts services all in the balance. Mr Wicks discovered he had family tie dating back to the 18th century.

Mr Wicks’ constituency was one of the worst hit areas during the 2011 riots and the MP criticised the compensation process, saying ‘speed at which the claims are being processed would embarrass a self-respecting snail.’

Mr Wicks also had an impressive ministerial career at parliament.

In 1994 he successfully took his Private Member's Bill through all its stages to become the first piece of legislation to recognise in law the needs of family carers as the Carers (Recognition & Services) Act 1995.

He was a member of the Social Security Select Committee from 1995-1997 before becoming Chair of the Education Select Committee 1998-1999.

He was an ever present minister in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1999 to 2008 and a minister for Lifelong Learning in 1999, Department for Work and Pensions in 2001 and was minister of state for the department until 2005.

He then became Minister of State for Energy followed by the Minister of State for Science and Innovated in 2006.

From 2007 to 2009, Mr Wicks was again Minister for Energy. The Croydon MP was the Prime Minister’s Special Representation on International Energy issues from 2009 to 2010.