Family celebrate life of a ‘happy’, ‘dedicated’ and ‘mischievous’ West Sussex councillor

Mick Hodgson making his final speech just weeks ago - photo by Jack Ladenburg
Mick Hodgson making his final speech just weeks ago - photo by Jack Ladenburg

The family of popular Warnham man and county councillor Mick Hodgson has paid a loving tribute to a ‘happy’, ‘dedicated’ and ‘mischievous’ husband and father.

Mick, who lived in the village most of his life and served both Warnham Parish Council and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) over a period of around 40 years, passed away peacefully aged 67 at his home on Friday August 23,surrounded by his family, after losing a short battle with liver cancer.

He leaves behind his wife Gytha, and his three children Ben, Sarah and Roger, who had all spent the five months since his diagnosis making the most of their time with Mick.

Sarah, 33, said recent weeks were filled with laughter as the family came together to host a catalogue of festivities including a party for more than 130 people at their Warnham home to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Mick’s eldest, Ben, 35.

The family also assisted Mick with his successful campaign for re-election to WSCC in May, and joined him at the count at Christ’s Hospital just two weeks after Mick had been discharged from hospital following an adverse reaction to chemotherapy.

“Mick was determined to attend the first WSCC general meeting after the election,” Gytha recalled. “He insisted on being driven to Chichester via his usual ‘scenic’ route through Petworth because he loved it so much.

“He was West Sussex through and through,” Sarah told the County Times this week. “He was incredibly proud of the county. In July we booked him a microlight flight across the county so he could see all of his favourite places from the air.”

Mick’s family has lived in Warnham for more than 100 years. In 1982, he succeeded his late father on the parish council and was subsequently chairman for 14 years.

In 2001 he joined WSCC and represented the Warnham and Rusper electoral division. He served as vice-chairman from 2009 until May 2013.

He did his best to attend every single WSCC meeting, as well as parish council meetings in his ‘patch’, and would spend hours meticulously wading through thick agendas - a commitment which always made it hard for Gytha, 63, to drag him away on holiday, she joked. He particularly enjoyed welcoming new UK citizens to the county at citizenship ceremonies.

Mick also had a passion for the county’s education, and hugely enjoyed his 12 years as a governor for the College of Richard Collyer in Horsham.

“He was so proud of what the college had achieved,” continued Sarah. “If he was sitting down with people from outside the county he was always first to boast about the schools in the area.”

Away from his services to West Sussex Mick enjoyed a career as a chartered surveyor.

He spent 15 years redeveloping Stonebridge Place in Blackbridge Lane, Horsham, and was able to enjoy seeing the project reach completion in June.

At home his children described him as ‘mischievous’, a man with a ‘very cheeky sense of humour’ who enjoyed a lively debate.

Sarah joked that bringing new partners home was always a bit of a risk.

She said: “You never knew what he was going to say so there was a lot of kicking under the table and telling him to behave.”

Mick’s love of the countryside is also evident on the family farm, on which he planted several thousand native trees and tried to provide habitat for a variety of fauna.

Gytha married Mick in Warnham’s St Margaret’s Church in 1977 and has arranged his funeral at the same church for Monday September 2 at 2pm.

She said he was ‘determined to keep going’ towards the end of his life and would not allow anyone to feel sorry for him.