Tributes to John Simmonds

A tribute to John Simmonds from Canterbury Constituency Conservative Association

It is with much sadness that we’re writing to let you know that our colleague, friend and councillor for Canterbury North, John Simmonds, passed away on 19th August.

John was the epitome of everything good about being a Conservative and what it means to be part of our fantastic community, to which John spent so much time and dedication to help make a positive difference to our lives, and will be sadly missed.

First elected to Kent County Council in 2001, during which time he served as Deputy Leader as well as having served as Portfolio holder for Education and Finance separately, but John was so much more than just a county councillor. Not only did John have a long and distinguished career in the city of London working for Lloyds Bank but he was recognised by many other organisations as someone who could provide leadership and financial acumen whilst being very approachable and always had a smile on his face.

John served on the University of Kent’s Council, during which time he was chair for three years, as a governor of the Whitstable Community College and Joy Lane Primary School as well a spell as chairman of Whitstable Rotary Club. It came to no surprise to anyone that in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List John received an MBE for services to local government, and was also made a Doctor of the University in November 2014.

On a personal I’m grateful to John’s leadership of our association, having had a spell as chairman, providing a platform to ensure our cause John has been described as “one of life’s good guys” and someone without enemies in life and will be fondly remembered for his selfless contributions for which we’ll always be eternally grateful.

 

Comments from Canterbury North Candidate Rob Thomas

I knew John as more than just a local politician but as a family friend from childhood and someone who was extremely supportive and encouraging to me when I took my first steps into local government.

Having worked alongside John, as Canterbury City Council councillor for Chartham and Stone Street since 2011, it has been clear that John was someone who was held in high regard by the local community. I found myself in awe of John’s ability to calmly respond to any problem or question posed, to ensure that council officers would be able to assist to resolving challenges as well as the ability to help find funding for local projects.

Like John I grew up in Kent having been born in Margate, lived with parents in Whitstable and attended the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys. Having studied Accounting and Finance at university I’ve been putting those skills into practice including roles locally at the University of Kent and Chaucer College here in Canterbury.

It is also the sense of public service and working to improve the local community that led me to pursue a number of roles and projects.

My first foray into charitable work began when I started volunteering for the local branch of the RSPCA in 2008 where I went on to become Branch Secretary and Fundraising Coordinator. It was this first hand experience of making a difference that inspired me to stand for election to the city council back in 2011.

During my time at the city council I’m proud to say that I’ve been part of a team that has helped to continue to deliver local services in times of financial cutbacks, invested in regeneration schemes, with Kingsmead and Wincheap in the pipeline for example, as well as shaping future growth in our district at the same time as finding local solutions to housing and homelessness which we’re all concerned about.

Part of the challenge moving forward is making sure that local residents, who pay tax to make these changes happen, are kept fully informed of all these changes. Personally I have found the best way to do this is through a combination of using social media, leaflets and working with the parish councils.

Such is my desire to ensure we continue to live in this amazing part of the country I have put myself forward for additional roles through the council as now I’m the representative at Active Life, which provides the local leisure facilities, and at World Heritage UK which is the body to help oversee our

UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canterbury. Active Life are on the brink of an exciting new era with £11m of investment in redeveloped leisure facilities and the World Heritage Site is about to undergo a new management plan alongside the council developing a new heritage strategy.

With this passion, and your support, it is my desire to continue to make these improvements to our community but this time with Kent County Council.

Rob Thomas