Tributes paid to "loyal and hardworking" councillor who has died suddenly aged 80

Councillors in South Ribble have paid tribute to former Mayor and former Deputy Council Leader, Colin Clark, who has died aged 80.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 7:00 am
Colin Clark as Mayor in 2012

Councillor Clark was rushed to hospital unexpectedly on Tuesday, March 2 following a heart attack, but despite getting his heart restarted, he did not regain consciousness and died in the evening of Thursday, March 4, surrounded by his wife, Margaret, and their children, Helen and Stephen.

Mayor of South Ribble from 2012 to 2013, Councillor Clark was an experienced local councillor – representing the Longton and Hutton West ward on South Ribble Borough Council from 1997 until his death.

Born in Ulverston, Cumbria, on 23 January 1941, he moved to Preston, aged 14, and attended Preston Grammar School.

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Colin Clark as Mayor in 2012, with wife Margaret

His professional career began as a scientist at the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Springfields in Salwick near Preston. After that, he spent 30 years in senior management positions in the water and environmental services sectors before he retired aged 52 from his position at South West Water.

He leaves behind wife Margaret, two children Helen and Stephen, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Councillor Margaret Smith, leader of the opposition at South Ribble Borough Council and leader of the South Ribble Conservatives, said: "It is with deep sadness that I write this tribute to our friend and colleague Colin. He was a very loyal, and hard-working member of our Conservative group.

“Colin was Deputy Leader of the Council for a number of years and more recently Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He was always there to offer help and advice to our new members.

Colin and Margaret Clark at a ceremony after he became Mayor of South Ribble

“He first joined the council in 1997 and has represented the ward of Longton and Hutton West for over 23 years.

“Colin was very professional in his approach; he would do his research and he liked to drill down into reports. Most of all, he liked all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed and things done in a professional and considered way.

“He was very proud to represent his ward and was always pleased to be re-elected with a huge majority.

“Colin was very conscientious at attending meetings and his contribution was greatly valued.

“One of his proudest achievements was the implementation of the shared service at the council which saved the taxpayer millions of pounds over the years.

“He was also especially proud in 2012 to be elected as Mayor of the Borough with his wife Margaret as mayoress by his side.

“The Conservative group will miss him greatly and South Ribble Borough Council will be a poorer place without him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Margaret and his family at this very sad time.”

Councillor Paul Foster, leader of South Ribble Borough Council and leader of the South Ribble Labour Group, said: “I will remember Colin in the manner in which I think he’d approve: as a fierce, passionate political juggernaut, standing up for what he believed in, challenging the status quo and always demanding the very best from the council.

“He has been a fantastic political opponent and I respect him enormously because I truly believe our work together on the council, albeit on different sides of the council chamber, has made a massive difference to the people of South Ribble and his service – representing Longton and Hutton West for all those years – is such a great testament to his work ethic, his character and his devotion to public service.

“The council meetings have just lost an experienced, passionate voice for Longton and Hutton West and the wider area. I can’t quite imagine these meetings without Colin’s deeply knowledgeable and constructive input.

“I want to send my deepest sympathies to Colin’s Conservative colleagues on the council; the Shadow Cabinet and Councillor Margaret Smith; and of course, most of all, Colin’s wife Margaret. We are all thinking of you Margaret and you can count on our support.”

Councillor David Howarth, deputy mayor of South Ribble and leader of the South Ribble Liberal Democrats, said: “This is really devastating news. I have known Colin since he came onto the council following a by-election in 1997 and we have seen so much change implemented in South Ribble for the greater good, and Colin was behind a lot of that.

“Colin was one of the most experienced councillors at South Ribble – so this is a huge setback for the borough and for Longton and Hutton West in particular.

“I want to pay tribute to some of Colin’s excellent contributions at council meetings down the years and his keen awareness of how the council should be run. He had very high standards and if something was not quite satisfactory, Colin would always challenge it.

“On behalf of the South Ribble Liberal Democrats, I pass our sincere condolences to Colin’s wife, Margaret; their family and friends; and everyone on the Conservative Group at South Ribble.

“We have all lost a wonderful colleague and a wise, passionate voice in our local democracy.”

Councillor Clark's funeral will be held at 2pm on Thursday, March 18 at St Michael’s Church, Hoole. The cremation at Charnock Richard Crematorium will follow straight afterwards.

Neil Buckley Funeral Directors have advised that it will be family flowers only and donations in Colin’s memory can be made to St Catherine’s Hospice in Lostock Hall by visiting https://www.stcatherines.co.uk/support-us/donate/.

More about Coun Colin Clark:

Colin and his wife Margaret have lived in Longton for more than 40 years, and he had many passions, not least sports.

He loved rugby, cricket and football in particular but also enjoyed golf and skiing. But he would watch any and all sports happily. He was a big Liverpool FC supporter and the Liverpool anthem, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, will be played as the family enter the crematorium next week.

Colin also loved doing DIY projects. He hated the idea of getting anyone else in to do a job that he could easily put his hand to.

Colin retired from South West Water aged 52 but was in no mind to relax and take it easy. Between his retirement and right up to the day of his death, Colin was involved with a great number of organisations. Here are some of the things he was involved in from 1993 onwards:

- He inspected further education colleges on behalf of the Further Education Funding Council

- He was an external moderator for the NCFE examinations board

- He inspected nursing homes for Lancashire County Council

- He was a very active member of the Masonic Society

- He was a school governor at Penwortham Girls’ High School; Hoole County Primary; and Penwortham County Primary.

- He was a well-respected member of the Advisory Committee for Magistrates and sat on Lord Shuttleworth’s Advisory Committee. As part of this role and as an important member of the committee, he was invited to Buckingham Palace with his wife Margaret to attend one of the Queens’s garden parties which was a huge honour.

- He was a member of the Health and Care Professions Council which looks after the interests of certain roles in the healthcare services (excluding nurses and doctors) such as paramedics, dieticians, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and many more.

- Until his death he continued to sit on mental health tribunals which covered various mental health hospitals in the region

- He was actively completing school appeals for the Blackburn diocese and he was an assessor of schools.