Horsham councillors bowed their heads as they said farewell to three of their former colleagues.
Sally Horner, who was described as a formidable debater, John Cox ‘a good egg’, and Alan Chisholm ‘a real gentleman’ all passed away within days of each other.
Mrs Horner represented Broadbridge Heath between 1989 and 2011, Mr Chisholm represented Slinfold between 1991 and 1999, and Mr Cox represented Nuthurst between 2003 and 2009.
At a meeting of Horsham District Council, members paid heartfelt tribute to the three before observing a minute’s silence.
Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper & Colgate) spoke highly of Mr Chisholm, sharing tales of his year as chairman of the council and the pride he took in his work.
He was chairman when the Shelley fountain was unveiled, welcoming visitors from Lerici, in Italy, where the poet Percy Shelley died, as well as Horsham’s twin town’s of St Maixent, in France, and Lage, in Germany.
Mrs Kitchen added: “I would like to pay tribute to him for the thought that he gave to Horsham district, the pride that he had in being its chairman – and to me he was a real gentleman.”
Toni Bradnum (Con, Nuthurst) said Mr Cox, who was also principal of Crawley College between 1991 and 2005, was highly regarded by many.
She said: “It’s a cliche to say John Cox was a good egg, but that’s exactly what he was. Diligent, meticulous, hard-working and loyal, that was John.”
Mrs Bradnum added: “John was not only a member of this council, he was also a dear friend of mine and I shall miss him a great deal.”
There were a few chuckles when Christine Costin (Lib Dem, Trafalgar) spoke about Mrs Horner’s love of cycling.
She said: “All around the town you saw her on her bike. Whatever the weather – I’ve seen her going down the Guildford Road looking like a drowned rat but she loved it.
“She set a fine example for all of us. Everything she did, she did with enthusiasm and she will be missed.”
Brian Donnelly called Mrs Horner a ‘fascinating lady’.
He said: “She was a most formidable councillor, a most formidable debater. Woe behold you if you said something inappropriate following one of her speeches because she would very quickly show how wrong you were.
“She set a very high standard which I think a lot of us certainly learned from.”
Messages of condolence have been sent to all three families.