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Tributes for councillor and former Sandwich mayor John Bragg who has died

Tributes have been paid to an "iconic" long-serving town councillor and former mayor.

John Bragg, who was still a serving member of Sandwich town council, died yesterday, aged in his early 90s.

Cllr John Bragg in 2010. Picture: Martin Apps
Cllr John Bragg in 2010. Picture: Martin Apps

Cllr Bragg, who was elected to the council in 1985 and was town mayor from 1998 to 2001, was awarded the OBE in 2008 and became an honorary freeman of Sandwich in 2010.

A spokesman for Sandwich Town Council said: "Cllr John Bragg was an iconic, valued member of Sandwich Town Council for 37 years.

"He was held in high esteem by fellow councillors, council staff and residents alike, and will be greatly missed by us all.

"Cllr Bragg dedicated so much of his time and energy to the interests of the town and its people, and he will be remembered with great respect and affection."

Cllr Jeff Franklin, who was elected as the new mayor only last week, spoke in remembrance of his colleague.

New mayor Jeff Franklin: "John had a real love of Sandwich."
New mayor Jeff Franklin: "John had a real love of Sandwich."

He said: "John had a real love of Sandwich.

"We were both members of the Cinque Ports Mayors Association, John was the Sandwich representative and we used to travel to the functions together when he insisted on driving his car.

"We always arrived on time because John had a fantastic knowledge of Kent and East Sussex.

"Next month on the 11th we were both going to lunch in Hythe and John was going to let me drive him for the first time.

"I know I will always remember John in my thoughts of our journeys together."

'He was always striving for excellence....'

Fellow councillor Dan Friend said: "I was absolutely devastated to hear the news.

"It will be impossible to forget a man who gave us so much. His contributions and legacy within Sandwich is woven in all that we do.

"He commanded great respect and admiration inside and outside of the council chamber.

"John supported residents and the community with his impressive understanding of what makes this town special and was always striving for excellence.

"His absence will be felt by many and this will be a tremendous loss to our town.

Cllr Dan Friend
Cllr Dan Friend

"I had seen him as recently at the mayor making last Thursday and we had arranged for a beer with him this coming week.

"He was a great friend, always available for words of wisdom and a first-hand account of the history of Sandwich. My thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."

John Bragg was born and educated in Torquay, Devon, and studied at the Chelsea School of Pharmacy, qualifying as a pharmacist in 1950.

He was in National Service from 1952 to 1953 and in the latter year joined the Glaxo laboratories in its research division.

In September 1955, Cllr Bragg moved to Pfizer, then in Folkestone, to set up its pharmaceutical development laboratory.

John Bragg with the freeman scroll he received in 2010
John Bragg with the freeman scroll he received in 2010

This led to him moving to Sandwich in 1958, buying a house there and residing in it for the rest of his life.

He rose up the ranks at Pfizer to become its sales and marketing director, joining the board in 1960.

His later roles in the company included general manager for its European chemical division.

In 1971, Cllr Bragg joined Calor Gas UK as managing director, later joining the board and becoming managing director in 1979 until he retired in 1986.

In his local authority career he was also a Dover district councillor representing Sandwich from 1987 to 2000.

John Bragg in St Mary's Church Sandwich in 2007. Picture: Terry Scott
John Bragg in St Mary's Church Sandwich in 2007. Picture: Terry Scott

Cllr Bragg was Mayor of Sandwich from 1998 to 2001 and that time included his Speakership of the Cinque Ports.

He had said on his profile on the town council website: "I chose Sandwich as an ideal place to live when I came to east Kent in 1955.

"I still think it is the best place to live in England and worth every effort to maintain its identity as a senior Cinque Port and a vital witness of Discovery Park’s growth."

Cllr Bragg was president of the Sandwich Branch of Conservatives and Tory group leader during his time at DDC.

He first married in 1954 and married again in 1972 after being widowed. He had three children, two stepchildren, 17 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

Cllr Bragg's other roles included:

  • Chairman of Canterbury & Thanet Health Authority, later the East Kent Health Authority. He retired in 1996.
  • The board of governors for Canterbury Christ Church University College.
  • Trustee for Kent Community Housing Trust (now Avante care).
  • Chairman of Sandwich Port and Haven Commission.
  • Chairman of Sandwich United Charity.
  • Sandwich Society Committee member.

Cllr Bragg was also a long-time member of Sandwich's Royal St George’s Golf Club, being captain from 1998 to 1999 and president from 2012 to 2015.

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