Tributes paid to ‘awe-inspiring’ cowboy councillor

Former district and parish councillor David Gathercole, who died at Addenbrooke's Hospital in August

Former district and parish councillor David Gathercole, who died at Addenbrooke's Hospital in August Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL - Credit: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to an “awe-inspiring” Suffolk cowboy and community man who has died aged 73.

Mr Gathercole, who previously worked for Aston Timber Products in Sedge Fen before serving as a parish and district councillor in Lakenheath, died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital on August 22 following a long battle with illness.

The community-spirited councillor, born in Lakenheath and raised in Sedge Fen, was well recognisable for his beloved Stetson hats which earned him the nickname “cowboy” among family and friends – and on the ballot paper.

As a councillor, Mr Gathercole had become well-known for his dedication to helping young people through the construction of Lakenheath Pavilion and his opposition to a proposed school near to the RAF base on safety grounds.

Linda Watts, his partner of 26 years, said he will forever be remembered for his community spirit.

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Ms Watts said: “He meant everything to me. He was such a character and always wanted to help the community he served.

“He was a brilliant councillor who worked so hard for the village. He even took his council papers into hospital, set himself up a little desk and gave people his personal email address so they could still get in touch.

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“He lived in Canada and that’s where the love of cowboys came from. He loved riding horses and working with the cattle, he’d wear his cowboy hat and boots everywhere he went.”

In a statement, Lakenheath Parish Council chairman Edward Morley said Mr Gathercole’s “never-ending dedication” to working for his community was “awe-inspiring”.

Mr Morley said: “I can honestly say that I have known very few people in my life as selfless, dedicated and hardworking than him in both his work and parish duties.

“On a personal note his level of moral, decency and determination were beyond reproach. His boots will be very large to fill, the community of Lakenheath have lost a great son.

“On behalf of myself and fellow councillors I wish to send my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to an extremely remarkable man for all he did for his parish and all of the residents. We are forever grateful.”

John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, added: “I was very sorry to learn the sad news of the death of councillor David Gathercole.

“Although we worked together for a comparatively short time since his election to West Suffolk Council in 2019, he was a hard working and very visible ward councillor, serving his communities with a strong sense of duty.

“I send my, and everyone at West Suffolk Council’s, sincere condolences and best wishes to his family, and to the people of Lakenheath, Eriswell and Sedge Fen whom he represented.”

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