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Obituary: Ron Wilson

Obituary: Ron WilsonIt was with great sadness that we heard of the death of Fylde's Honorary Alderman - formerly Councillor - Ron Wilson this weekend.

He was a man we knew well and regarded even more highly. It would not be stretching a point too far to say that, in our opinion, he was one of the best councillors Fylde has had in our 30 year experience its operation.

Unassuming, and with a generous self deprecating wit, he never took himself too seriously.

Not for him the puffed up chest and the egotistical "Do you know who I am?" assertion of self importance. His manner was characterised by his concern to help his fellow man, not advancing his own position or status.

As a councillor, he was a member of the Fylde Ratepayers, a group of independent-minded councillors who were always elected because they put people first.

He and his colleagues chose to work mostly without the stricture of policy. They chose to base their decisions on something that is now making its slow comeback (but has yet to re-alight upon Fylde) - plain common sense.

As an individual, he was exceptionally easy to get on with. Perhaps because his father had been the Head Gardener on Lord Lichfield's estate in Staffordshire, (and we have more than a passing interest in gardening), we immediately hit it off. After school he had served in the RAF and worked for the Customs and Excise, service, completing his working life supervising people and their luggage through Blackpool Airport Customs Control.

He was elected to serve as a Councillor for Ashton Ward in St Annes back in the 1980's and was returned every year for more than 20 years, during which time he was chosen to be Deputy Mayor of Fylde in 1991/92, then served as Mayor of Fylde with his wife Hilda as Mayoress in 2005/06.

His interests were mostly sporting (especially cricket), health (he was a great supporter of several hospital based organisations), and the Church - most notably Our Lady Star of the Sea which was his local church when he lived in Ashton Ward.

His concern for health and helping others was reflected in the charities he selected for his Mayoral year (Brian House hospice, Trinity Hospice and the League of Friends of Clifton and Lytham Hospitals).

In Committee meetings his style was always thoughtful and consensual, but on occasions we saw him moved to speak in that particular kind of old fashioned, restrained British anger - when he thought something was not right.

But mostly, he was lightly humorous.

We recall one occasion when he and some of Fylde's other members accepted an invitation from our (then) MEP to visit and see for themselves how 'Europe' worked. (In the days when they paid their own fares for such trips). And in a Tourism and Leisure Committee debate shortly after returning, during what became an unexpectedly contentious item about whether or not the Council should allow a 'Bouncy Castle' concession on the beach next to the pier, amd things were getting a little heated about what type of castle it might be, we recall his sotto voce contribution wafting into the ether: "In view of our recent visit, perhaps we should ask if he has a Bouncing Chateau instead" - which broke the tension in the meeting. His humour restored good humour to the debate.

In another example of his kindness and concern for others, we recall that every Christmas time he would appear just before Christmas Eve with a box of Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers to be shared by all the staff in the department when they had a coffee. It was his personal way of saying thank-you for the help and advice he had received during the year when he came in with concerns raised by his electorate.

A few years ago moved to live in a bungalow in Lytham, but continued to represent Ashton Ward in St Annes where he was well known and loved by his electorate.

For a while he was 'put out of action' following a stroke that actually caused him to collapse during a meeting, and which initially took his right side. But with the courage and determination that was so typical of him, he was able to walk again and carry on both his council duties, and his role as 'social secretary' for the Ratepayers group, organising two lunches a year and the raffle and getting prizes and so on.

Before his stroke, Ron and Hilda had helped to run the library for Clifton Hospital. So it seemed only fitting that, after his stroke, he had rehabilitated there and, following his recovery, he was able to help at the hospital once again, offering other stroke patients a role model (not that he would have seen it that way) and the benefit of his experience. He also, through his involvement with the League of Friends group, raised funds for electronic beds for the hospital's stroke unit.

He returned to council work and resumed civic life as a governor of Our Lady Star of the Sea School, a member of Lytham St Annes Twinning Association and of the Police forum.

He was honoured to receive the Richard Thomas Community Award, which recognises the achievement and commitment of people who give their time to help others in the community.

It was nothing more than he deserved.

So on that happy note of recognition, we bid farewell to one of Fylde's great councillors. A model of selflessness and concern for others, a great councillor, and a truly lovely man.

We understand his funeral service will be held at 10.00 at Our Lady Star of the Sea, St Annes Road East on Tuesday 14th February 2017, followed by a private burial at Lytham Park Cemetery, but all are welcome to attend the service.

Dated:  7 February 2017



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