Leading politician and ‘gentleman’ dies (80)

John David
John David
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A leading Pendle politician who served the borough for three decades has died.

John David (80) died on Monday and friends and former council colleagues have paid tribute to his “immense presence” and his tireless work for the benefit of people in Pendle.

Four of Nelson's leading public figures were honoured with civic awards during a ceremony at the town hall.
Pictured with their illuminated scrolls are L-R: George Adam, Stephen Barnes, Pauline McCormick and John David.

Four of Nelson's leading public figures were honoured with civic awards during a ceremony at the town hall. Pictured with their illuminated scrolls are L-R: George Adam, Stephen Barnes, Pauline McCormick and John David.

In his 28 years on Pendle Council, John served in most senior positions including as leader of the council between 2008 and 2010 and as chairman of the Executive.

Last year, Pendle Council made him a Freeman of the Borough.

However, John, who has also been described as a “gentleman” and “wonderful man” who never forgot his Welsh roots, especially when it came to rugby, was also known by many for his interests beyond the council.

These included Pendle Opera and Burnley Orchestra, his love of St Bernard dogs and the time he spent at his house in the North West of Scotland.

John’s successor as the Pendle councillor for Fence, Coun. Brian Newman, said that John was a legend in the village and would remain so for many a year to come.

He said: “Our village hall will stand as a lasting memory of John’s work for the village residents.”

Coun. Tony Greaves, John’s successor as leader of the Liberal group on Pendle Council, said John was irreplaceable.

He said: “People in so many walks of life in Pendle owe John an enormous debt of thanks. People who say all politicians are just in it for themselves should just remember this wonderful man who worked for everyone here.”

Coun. Nadeem Ahmed, who represents Whitefield ward in Nelson, said: “John was an absolutely brilliant role model from whom I and many others learnt so much. He was a real gentleman who will be missed.”

John was elected in May 1986 for the Fence and Higham ward, and represented Old Laund Booth (Fence) when the boundaries changed.

He retired in May 2014 due to ill health, but prior to that had been leader of the Liberal Democrat group from 2008 until his retirement. As well as council leader for two years, he was also deputy leader from 2012 until 2014, and served as a highly distinguished Mayor of Pendle in 1992/1993.

John sat on most of the main committees of Pendle Council, chairing the Leisure Services Committee, was a founder member of the Barrowford and Western Parishes Committee when the Liberals brought devolution to the workings of the council.

He was also an enthusiastic member of the parish council in Old Laund Booth (Fence) and served as chairman.

Getting the parish as a whole included in the green belt, saving the village library for many years and creating the village hall in part of the library building are considered his greatest achievements.

John’s other contributions involving the council were sitting on the PEARL board and that of Pendle Leisure Trust, and he was a committed stalwart of the Pendle Twinning Committee.

Philip Mousdale, Pendle Council’s Corporate Director, said: “Councillors and staff of Pendle Council were saddened to hear of the death of John David.

“With his great personal charm and sound business approach he was well-respected and worked tirelessly for many years to make sure Pendle got a good deal.

“We offer our sincere condolences to John’s family. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.”

Away from his council work, John was an important figure in local education and chaired both the governors of Nelson and Colne College for many years, and the governing body at Walton High School in Nelson, where he steered its transformation into Pendle Vale College”.

He also had involvement in the Heritage Trust for the North West, the local Citizens Advice Bureau and Mid-Pennine Arts.

John gained a first class honours degree in mechanical engineering from Queen Mary College in London and worked for GEC and Chloride. He later started his own electroplating business East Lancashire Platers which he ran for 30 years before retiring.

He married his wife Judith in December 1961 and they had three children together, the late Susan, Huw and Mary.

Music was a lifelong passion of John’s and he took up the cello as an adult and sang in local choirs.

Alongside his wife Judith, the couple played a significant part in the local classical music scene. John chaired Burnley Orchestra and Choir for 30 years and their own home-based string quartet, the Hoarstones Ensemble, gave much joy to many people, including a locally famous “family and friends” rendering of The Messiah at Christmas.

John also loved tending to the enormous vegetable patch at the family home and helping out on the farm which rears rare breed Manx Loaghtan sheep. In later life he turned his hand to crafts and enjoyed weaving and wood turning.

Nelson Town Hall’s flag will fly at half mast until his funeral which will be held at St Thomas’s Church in Barrowford on Monday at 1pm followed by a private family burial at the Jo Belbin Memorial Woodland Cemetery in Barrowford. Donations, if desired, should be made to Pendleside Hospice.