www.counterbalance.org.uk

 

fylde counterbalance logo

search counterbalance

plain text / printout version of this article

countering the spin and providing the balance


 

Obituary: David Meldrum

Obituary: David MeldrumWe are very sad to report the death of former St Annes Town Councillor David Meldrum, who died on Saturday 18th May following a period of illness.

He had been in poor health for a year or more but had made a significant recovery in recent months before suffering two strokes in the last couple of weeks.

As well a being a former councillor he was a good friend, and regular reader of counterbalance.

David was an exceptional man. He belonged to a different age. We sometimes described him as looking like Captain Birds-Eye and behaving and sounding like Captain Mainwaring from Dad's Army - and it wasn't far from the truth.

His character was formed in the days of the British Empire and indeed he served in India where no doubt he absorbed some of the culture of Empire.

His early life was in engineering, and during the war he was an RAF navigator. After the war, he made his life in Public Health in Local Government in St Albans and Manchester where he reached a senior level, before moving to Fylde in retirement.

We said he was exceptional, and he was. To those brought up in today's touchy-feely culture, his stiff upper lip approach and his attitude to what he might see as fools could, on occasions seem rude. He did not suffer fools at all gladly and he frequently spoke his mind more openly than most people today would consider appropriate. An example was when he was when he was offered some 'healthy option' crisps at a function, he asked the hostess in quite a loud voice why she was feeding him cardboard.

Another was when taking lunch with friends at Fairhaven Lake cafe where a badly behaved child started swinging on a bevel-edge mirror hanging on the wall. The parents seemed oblivious both to the nuisance and to the danger to the child. In a stentorian voice, David bellowed "DON'T *DO* THAT" which reduced the whole cafe to immediate silence, the child to desist, and the parents plus child to leave quickly.

But it wasn't just his blunt and outspoken manner that made him exceptional. His vocabulary was enormous. If today's average is 10,000 words, his was at least 50,000 or 60,000 words. Often we would have to look up or ask him for the meaning of something he said. Less common words like 'nugatory' and 'de-racination' would be a ready part of his speech.

And when he was in his 80s, he applied for, and took, the MENSA test. He was shown to have an IQ in excess of 180 and was, in fact, in the top 2% of people in the country. We related this outstanding achievement in front of him (He would be far too modest to say it himself) to a long standing councillor friend who was utterly amazed at David, and said how impressed he was.

David responded with a classic remark when he said "it's nothing really, it's what you're born with - some people have big dicks" at which the assembly erupted in laughter.

Locally, David was active in civic and social life. In earlier times with his wife, he had been a keen thespian and could turn incredibly realistic mimic accents on and off at will. He was a member of the International Food and Wine Society and we have accompanied him to formal dinners and wine tastings where we learned how to appreciate decent wines. He kept a good cellar and would produce bottles of surprisingly excellent Spanish and Italian wine from time to time.

He was a practical man and an excellent cabinet maker and woodworker with a workshop kitted out like a joiners shop, from which all manner of artefacts emerged.

Before his illness, he was an active committee member of the Supporters of Ashton Gardens, and the Fylde Civic Awareness Group.

Being possessed of lifelong socialist values, he Chaired the Fylde Constituency Labour Party for some years, but when he eventually stood for election to the St Annes on the Sea Town Council, it was as an Independent, in the belief that party politics had no place in a Town Council.

He had also been an active member of the St Annes Town Council Steering Group who had campaigned for St Annes to have it's own parish council.

In May 2005, he stood for, and was elected to, the first incarnation of St Annes on the Sea Town Council where he became a founding councillor. We watched him make significant and experienced contributions to its deliberations.

Together with former Cllr Jon Harrison, at the Town Council, he set about growing and developing the organisation that has became the Shepherd Road Allotment Association who subsequently assumed day-to-day management responsibility for the site.

Sadly, when the next election came in 2007, he found himself up against Tory candidate Angela Jacques in St Leonard's Ward, and he lost out to her. At that time, out went founding members like Jon Harrison, David Meldrum, Mike Knowles, and Roger Walker, and in came Tony Ford, Angela Jacques, Jill Sumner and Bob Fielding (via a by-election).

Those changes combined to produce a desire for, and new a majority of, Town Councillors willing to support, a change of emphasis to 'do' more things - and to increase the tax charge in order to do them.

Post-election, David maintained an interest in civic matters and regularly attended the Town Council meetings in the public gallery.

Probably his greatest claim to fame locally came at the large public meeting at the St Annes YMCA in 2008 where, at its conclusion, he was the person who called on the meeting to vote for abandonment of the Leader and Cabinet system which he said was the pernicious underlying reason for the bad decisions Fylde was making, and he called for a return to the Committee System of Governance. The meeting of 200 people agreed with him, and no-one voted against his proposition.

So it was David Meldrum who set in train the current project to return Fylde to using the Committee system, and, as readers might have seen in the Express in recent weeks, he was the first signature on the petition that is steadily growing with signatures week by week to call for a referendum to change back to the Committee system.

Although we're sad that he won't be here to see it to fruition, we take comfort from the fact that almost right up to the end of his life, he was in touch with the progress the petition was making.

We are therefore happy to salute the passing of an exceptional man whose ability and self-reliance put today's society to shame, and whose legacy to Fylde may yet be more permanent than he might otherwise have expected.

His funeral is due to be at Lytham Cemetery and Crematorium on Friday 31 May at 12 Noon.

We hope he is now re-united with the wife he dearly loved, and we trust both will rest in peace.

Dated:    26 May 2013


info@counterbalance.org.uk

To be notified when a new article is published, please email 
notify@counterbalance.org.uk