Nick Herbert: MP’s tribute to councillor Frank Wilkinson

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert

I was really saddened when I heard that County Councillor Frank Wilkinson died last week.

It was only a very few weeks ago when we heard that Frank had suddenly been admitted to Worthing Hospital with leukaemia. We were all hoping that his treatment was going well when the shocking news came.

I got to know Frank after I was first elected in 2005, and quickly realised what a dedicated councillor he was. Whatever the issue or event in his area, Frank was always there. He was assiduous in listening to local concerns and representing local people.

First elected in 1997, Frank served as County Councillor for the Storrington Division for 16 years. He was also Chairman of Chanctonbury branch and a District Officer of the Arundel and South Downs Conservative Association.

Frank was a ‘true blue’, but I never saw him play politics. He didn’t see it as his role to give self-aggrandising commentary on the European Union or the party leadership. Instead, he was loyal and utterly committed to his community.

Frank served in the Cabinet of the county council and was responsible for the farsighted decision to invest in recycling facilities so that waste to landfill could be reduced.

Over the years I saw Frank take up local issues ranging from drainage problems to the dreadful air quality in Storrington. He did so with quiet determination and unfailing politeness.

I never heard Frank raise his voice or say anything disobliging about someone else. Instead, he would offer his view with quiet courtesy. So often in a discussion he was the voice of common sense and compassion.

Frank was a dedicated party worker and with the constant support of his wife Ros, to whom he was happily married for over half a century, he tirelessly organised fundraising events.

Above all, Frank was a lovely man. In this age of cynicism about politics, he shone as someone who was obviously committed to public service and wanted to help people. It is no wonder that he was re-elected time after time.

I will miss Frank a great deal, as I am sure will everyone who knew him. Our thoughts go out to Ros and their family. They have a great loss to bear, but I hope they will be consoled with the knowledge that Frank was much loved in the community.