Tributes to former town mayor

Sally and Keith Blake
Sally and Keith Blake

Tributes are being paid to former Crawley mayor Keith Blake who died at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford on Thursday.

Keith, 72, was mayor of Crawley in 2012-13 and served as a Crawley borough councillor, representing Gossops Green, for 11 years before retiring in 2015.

He was cabinet member for environmental services between 2006 and 2011 and was also a West Sussex County councillor from 2009 until 2013.

A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said: “Our thoughts are with Keith’s wife, former councillor and mayor Sally Blake, his family and friends.”

And West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith said: “It was with sadness that I learned about Keith Blake’s passing and our thoughts go out to his family at this very sad and difficult time for them.

“Keith was an enthusiastic member of the county council and had a real interest in environment issues.”

As well as his council duties, Keith was involved with many local organisations close to his heart. He was chairman of the Royal British Legion in Crawley and worked tirelessly for the legion’s annual Poppy Appeal. He was also a member of the town’s Royal Air Force Association.

He was president of the Crawley District Scout Association and chose the association as his mayoral fundraising charity during his year’s reign.

He was also a keen supporter of Ifield Barn Theatre and was a member of the theatre’s Green Room Club, and a supporter of the annual Ifield May Fayre.

He was instrumental in organising a memorial service to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme held at Crawley’s Memorial Gardens and managed to get together representatives from every religious organisation in the town - a feat never before accomplished.

Wife Sally said: “He was enthusiastic for whatever he took on. It was always 100 per cent. There were no half measures with Keith at all.”

Keith was born in Suffolk and served in the RAF for 14 years from joining as a boy apprentice. He specialised in electronics and went on to work for Rediffusion at Gatwick.

His work there took him on frequent trips to the US. And it was on his return from one of those trips that he first met his bride-to-be Sally. “We went out for a drink and we had this rapport right from the start.” The couple were married for almost 40 years.

Apart from Sally, Keith leaves a sister, daughter, son, grandson, two granddaughters, a great granddaughter and a great grandson.