Tributes are being paid to one of Steyning’s most well-known men who has died aged 77.
George Cockman was an Independent district councillor for 20 years, believing that the town was under-represented and wanting to make a change.
He was elected in 1995, and became the chairman of Horsham District Council’s scrutiny and overview committee in 2012.
His wife Beulah, 73, said: “We have well over 100 cards, and Facebook is littered with tributes.
“He was my soulmate and he was lovely. I am very proud of him and I couldn’t wish for anything else to be said because he was a super bloke. I loved him very much, and I know that we had a very loving relationship.”
Previously, George worked at Steyning Grammar School as head of the RE department in 1969 after graduating from Oxford, before being made deputy head in 1995.
In 1999, he was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and received an MBE for work in adult education.
He was also involved in many of the school’s activities, including sponsored walks, school performances, and volunteered at St Andrew’s Church in Vicarage Lane.
Beulah added: “He gave himself to whoever needed him and if someone needed his help, he was there for them.”
A spokesman for Steyning Grammar School said: “George was an eminent and progressive scholar. He was widely read and an author himself which was reflected in the liberal and meaningful readings he selected for all the school services. He ultimately became the Steyning Grammar School Boarding House chaplain where he gave his heart and mind to nurture all Steyning Grammar School boarders in the things that he saw as important for their happiness and future.
“George’s genuine caring for his students, teachers, parents, the school and the Steyning community won the hearts of many. He was wise, fair and consistent with an infectious sense of humour. George’s unerring commitment to the school left a lasting legacy of a distinctive Christian ethos and inclusivity.”
Leader of Horsham District Council Ray Dawe said: “I was very sorry to hear that George has passed away. Although we did not share the same political views, our discussions were always amicable and helpful.
“I remember him as a councillor of considerable wit and intellect, and his participation in council debates was always one that was carefully listened to by all and could never be easily passed over. I know he put as much passion into listening to and voicing concerns from his constituents and he will be greatly missed.”
Chairman of the council Christian Mitchell added: “I had known George since I was elected in 2003 and I very much admired him for his dedication to his ward and to the district.
“George cared passionately about the residents that he represented and commanded respect across the political spectrum. It was a joy to see George with his wife Beulah at the Civic Church Service in June. He was committed to the church, the district and education and will be greatly missed.”
George leaves behind Beulah, son Giles, 41, and daughter Emma, 47.
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