Tributes to the town's last 'larger than life politician'

By Harriet Ernstsons 12/06 Updated: 12/06 14:16

Buy photos » Coun Ron Passingham has died. (s)

A FORMER Mayor of Redditch described as the last of the town's 'larger than life politicians' has died.

Ron Passingham passed way on Saturday morning (June 9) following a period of illness aged 92.

The Webheath resident, who leaves behind four children, had three separate spells on the council between 1973 and 1995, taking on the role of mayor in 1987. It was during his mayoral year Mr Passingham signed the contract which established the link between Redditch and its twin town Mtwara. His wife Betty, who passed away in 2008, was also a councillor and former mayor.

Council leader Bill Hartnett led the tributes to his former colleague, who taught at the County High School - now Trinity High School - and also served in the navy during the Second World War.

"He made a lot of difference to people's lives and was a real gentleman. He led a very full life and only the last few months have been difficult for him. He shall be sadly missed. He was a great man."

Coun Carole Gandy said although most people thought of Betty when the name Passingham was mentioned, the quieter of a couple both involved in public life was 'often the wind beneath the wings of their partner'.

"I admire the dedication and hard work he put into his councillor role," she added.

"In later life Ron continued to support events in the town and was always seen with a smile on his face and cheeky twinkle in his eye. He continued to live an independent life despite his advanced years.

"The last of the larger than life politicians has left this town."

His Labour colleague Coun Andy Fry, who first met Ron when he was at school, described him as an intelligent, kind and caring man.

"Many of us like to think of ourselves as good councillors, but Ron was one of the great councillors of Redditch," he added.

"We loved him deeply and we feel for his four children, he will be sadly missed."

Coun Pat Witherspoon described his death as the 'end of an era'.

"I think the Passingham family has given this town an enormous amount over the years. It is an amazing experience to be involved with their family and they have left a huge legacy behind in the town."

The flag at the Town Hall is flying at half mast as a mark of respect ahead of his funeral next week.

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