Tributes to ‘gentle and thoughtful’ cricket loving and countryside campaigning Southwater doctor

Ian Thwaites, who passed away peacefully on September 30
Ian Thwaites, who passed away peacefully on September 30

Dr Ian Thwaites lost his battle with prostate cancer and passed away peacefully on September 30.

He will be greatly missed as a loving husband, father and grandfather: as a doctor in Horsham for over 40 years; as a member of Horsham Cricket Club; and as a founding member and chairman of Keep Southwater Green.

Ian Thwaites was born in Brighton in 1943, the youngest of four children and the son of local General Practitioner, Dr Guy Thwaites.

He became a man of many talents. He was a fine cricketer, playing several seasons for Sussex Second XI and Cambridge University, winning a Blue in 1964. He went on to represent Horsham Cricket Club for many years, most notably for the ‘Thursday XI’.

Having trained at Cambridge and St Thomas’ Hospital, he was a dedicated, caring and thoughtful doctor.

Originally attracted to Horsham by the excellence of its cricket club, he joined Horsham’s Orchard Surgery in 1970, after a spell as a flying doctor in Africa. He worked in the practice until 1990, when he left to practice as an independent musculoskeletal and sports physician from his home in Southwater.

There he manipulated, injected, acupunctured and jovially encouraged many of West Sussex’s injured and aching population back to an active life.

He had a long-standing passion for good food and wine, enjoyed in the company of family and friends.

He was an excellent chef, a talent which lead him to write culinary articles for a medical magazine for many years and he was runner-up in a Sunday Times amateur chef of Great Britain competition (a forerunner of ‘Master Chef’) in 1983.

Complementing his love of good food was his enthusiasm for producing his own ingredients and he cultivated an extraordinary array of produce (from potatoes to pigs) in a highly ordered garden.

His work, his sport, and his garden combined to produce a deep connection with the area and its communities. He viewed the poorly considered proposals for housing development in Southwater as a direct threat to all that was good and worth preserving in the area.

Through the formation and chairmanship of the pressure group Keep Southwater Green he tirelessly fought the district council’s and housing developers’ plans to build on Southwater’s green fields.

His family have received many touching tributes to his life over the last two weeks.

There are three words that are common to nearly all of them: he was ‘gentle’, ‘kind’ and ‘thoughtful’. But to his children and grandchildren (and possibly many others) he was also an inspiration. He approached life with enormous energy, high intelligence, and a healthy disregard for received wisdom.

He cared little for outward appearance (to the occasional frustration of his wife, Linda); what mattered were character, integrity, loyalty and living a full and loving life.

His family and friends will likely remember him in two guises. First, as the master batsman, nonchalantly clipping cricket balls off his legs over the Horsham Cricket Club pavilion; and second, emerging from his beloved vegetable garden in wellington boots with an old jumper eccentrically tucked into his muddy trousers, eagerly anticipating a glass of good claret.

A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at St. Mary’s Church, Horsham from 2pm on Monday November 23, with a reception afterwards at Horsham Cricket Club.

Meanwhile members of Keep Southwater Green also paid tribute to Dr Thwaites.

A statement from the group said: “Keep Southwater Green’s committee members are devastated by the loss of our chairman, Dr Ian Thwaites. Ian founded the group, dedicated to protecting the parish from overdevelopment, in 2010, and remained its leader until the beginning of this year.

“Although he decided to take a back seat then, in order to concentrate on his health issues, he continued to be involved, scrutinising documents, attending our meetings, and dispensing wisdom and humour in equal measure.

“Ian was held in high esteem by everyone who knew him. He was a man of integrity, great charm and humility; the epitome of an English gentleman. He did far more for our community than most are aware of, working tirelessly and determinedly to battle against the tide of housebuilding that threatens to swamp the village.

“Ian’s passion for, and unswerving commitment to, protecting Southwater and its countryside for the benefit of future generations means we are all the poorer for his passing. As a community group, we are indebted to him. As individuals, we each feel it is a great privilege to have known such a genuinely lovely man.”

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