Published: 18:17, 20 August 2018
| Updated: 18:21, 20 August 2018
Long-serving Kent county councillor John Simmonds who died at the weekend following a long illness has been described as “one of life’s good guys”.
Even prior to his commitment to local government, he had immersed himself in doing good for his community, including as chairman of Whitstable Rotary Club.
He once persuaded the legendary British boxing champion Henry Cooper to come and do some local fundraising.
Elected to the KCC in 2001 to represent Canterbury West, later to become Canterbury North, his huge experience in finance was highly valued.
It resulted in him being awarded an MBE for services to local government.
At the time of his death he had only just been forced to step down as Cabinet Member for Finance due to his increasing ill health.
Cllr Simmonds was born in Broadstairs but had lived in Whitstable since 1964.
He was married to Barbara for more than 50 years and had three children and was a grandfather to six.
Paying tribute to him, Canterbury Conservative Association chairman Greig Baker said: “Many people will know John through his tireless work for community projects.
“He made life better for countless local residents through his support for village halls in places like Rough Common, Blean and Chartham Hatch.
“He helped provide play equipment across the district and campaigned for safer roads in our local villages and towns.”
John’s political colleagues, both in the county council and the local Conservative Association, will treasure his calm and wise advice, and miss his many words of encouragement.”
As well as his contribution to many community projects and serving as a governor for two local schools, John also had important roles with the Council of the University of Kent and Whitstable Castle Trust.
Greig added: “Of course, John’s family and friends will feel his loss most and those closest to him will miss him terrible. He made friends wherever he went, whether at a cricket match, playing bridge, or listening to jazz.
“I am only grateful to have known someone like him - he was one of the good guys.”
The Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter paid tribute to John Simmonds who served as a Cabinet Member for both Education and Finance for many years.
Mr Carter said: “Kent has been extremely fortunate to have benefitted from the enormous contribution that John made in his 17 years of public service to Kent County Council, both
in the world of education but most prominently in his role as Cabinet Member for Finance.
“John brought a wealth of experience from his highly successful career in banking and finance. In his role as Cabinet Member for Finance, John has steered Kent County Council in recent years through the most austere financial times the authority has ever experienced.
"Kent has been extremely fortunate to have benefitted from the enormous contribution that John made in his 17 years of public service to Kent County Council" - Paul Carter
“John’s astute commercial and financial brain has enabled the Kent County Council to continue to deliver good services to our residents and businesses.
“John was a wise, intelligent, determined and gentle man much loved by all who worked with him, and he will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.”