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Tributes paid to Whitstable campaigner Richard Stainton

By James Rose

Friends and colleagues will have the chance to pay tribute to a much-loved community campaigner who died last Monday.

Richard Stainton, 65, of Sydenham Street, was a former manager of the Whitstable Improvement Trust and kept active with several groups promoting local issues.

Whitstable Library in Oxford Street and the Whitstable Improvement Trust in Harbour Street will have books of condolence open from tomorrow until the end of the week.

Richard Stainton
Richard Stainton

Among his achievements was co-ordinating a campaign to build a bench on Whitstable beach in memory of peace campaigner Brian Haw.

He was recently involved with the Whitstable Literary Festival and Oval Chalet Preservation Community Group, demonstrating against the sale of a piece of seafront land for a planned holiday home development.

He also launched a petition to save Whitstable Library last February.

Bench designers and local campaigners with the Brian Haw Memorial Bench.
Bench designers and local campaigners with the Brian Haw Memorial Bench.

Whitstable Literary Festival director Victoria Falconer was one of the first to honour him.

She said: “We were deeply saddened to hear that we’ve lost Richard.

“He was one of the kindest people you could meet and we will miss him deeply.

“Richard was hugely supportive of the WhitLit festival and from its very early days made a huge contribution to our programme through his ideas and contacts.

“As a highly active member of the community, his events were thought-provoking and with heart.

“Highlights included the Coal Mining in Kent event which he organised and stepped in as chairman at the last minute, and the young adult author Alan Gibbons and Graham Clarke Magna Carta evening at the Duke of Cumberland.

“We were working together on this year’s programme when he died and the festival this year will be dedicated to his memory.”

Whitstable councillor Neil Baker said: “He did so much work and was very active in the community. He has made a lasting impact with the peace bench on the beach.

“He was a very kind man and I always appreciated the fact he always used to listen to all sides of an argument – he was never someone to campaign without reasons behind it.”

At the launch of Whitstable in Bloom, from left, Henry Lewis, Roger Seijo and Richard Stainton. Picture: Chris West
At the launch of Whitstable in Bloom, from left, Henry Lewis, Roger Seijo and Richard Stainton. Picture: Chris West

Richard was a fellow member of the Whitstable Sceptics Group with founder Graham Simpson, where they discussed the town’s major issues.

Mr Simpson said: “I was having lunch with him this weekend and we had a wonderful half-hour discussion.

“There are so many people in Whitstable who knew him, he was involved in so many things. It’s happened so quickly and it is such a tragedy his life has been cut short.

“He was a thoroughly decent person and always had the interests of the community at heart.”

Cllr Stephen Bartley posted a tribute on Twitter.

He said: “Sad news about Richard Stainton. I didn’t know him well but was glad to meet him and I’m sure others in Whitstable are glad they did too.”

Many friends, councillors and local campaigners have expressed their shock at his loss and appreciation for his work.

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