25/02/2015 Leave a comment
Yesterday I attended the sad funeral of Cllr. Geoffrey Jaggard. I have know Geoffrey for a number of years first as a Conservative Association officer when he was Leader of Forest Heath District Council, more recently in the great unitary debate that took place in the final days of the previous Labour Government and most recently as a member of the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee I chair and he added his many years of experience to as a member.
A couple of weeks ago at the West Suffolk Conservative Assocation AGM, I paid tribute to him and his former fellow Councillor Maureen Hills both of whom sadly had passed since the last AGM. I said that whilst In the room any number of those present had at one point or another had a argument with me, I could only remember one occasion when he had slightly raised his voice at whatever nonsense I was saying at the time, his gift was that he was always able to deal with …..
At the end of the funeral as a mark of respect those Councillors who could make it along lined the way as his coffin was carried from the church. I know we will all miss his quiet counsel and friendship.
But do not mistake his gentlemanliness for weakness. It was quite fitting that as the assembled congregation at St. Mary’s Church, Newmarket marked his passing, in the background you could hear the construction work continuing on the Home of Horseracing. I say fitting because it is in no small part due to his and the Chief Executive of the Council at the time, David Burnip, leadership and determination that had brought this aspiration to life.
As we walked to the Hotel for the wake, I commented to fellow councillors that long before I got involved with Local Politics I was extremely critical ad to why the council would buy up a tumble down building and spend million renovating it, the building being Palace House which is to be the cornerstone of a world class racing visitor attraction that will shortly emerge from under the scaffolding, with the Palace House itself being used to home some of this nations racing treasures and art.
In the next few months the good and the great will gather and be shown around the wonderful new Racing Museum attractions and I hope a moments tribute is paid to this non son of Racing, without who’s vision and quiet determination, the whole project would literally never have happened. A fitting public life legacy to a real gentleman.