FORMER Battle mayor David Hussey, who was as well-known for his passion for his home town as much as his sense of humour, has died aged 70.
David, who joined Battle Town Council in 2004 and enjoyed a stint as mayor between 2009-2011, passed away last Friday (March 30), just four months after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Born and bred in Battle, David loved his home town.
He left Sussex to pursue his accountancy training and career but he returned home to his roots in 1998 and immersed himself in the community.
He was Mayor of Battle in the year of the moonlanding anniversary and had to speak at a service in St Mary’s Church where he had been baptised nearly 70 years before.
He announced from the pulpit “this is one small step for a councillor but one giant leap for a former choir boy”.
David leaves behind long-term partner Maria and three sons and a daughter from a previous marriage - Andrew, Martin, Julianne and Anthony.
He also had four grandchildren - Chloe, Amelie, Samuel and Arthur.
His daughter Jules said: “I will remember dad most for his sense of humour and his willingness to always help anyone in need if they asked.
“I once had a letter from Dad where he said ‘just stick to my maxim that if you are in trouble and we can help, tell us first. Life’s too short and I’ve learnt to enjoy it’.
“Martin fondly remembers his trip to Trinidad where dad worked for a few years and where David made many friends who remember him still.
“Andrew recalls dad’s often said phrase ‘Old golfers never die, they just lose their balls’. Unfortunately they do die, but we don’t think dad ever lost his balls.
“He will be missed greatly.”
David was a keen golfer and was a popular member at the Battle Golf Club, which has paid it’s own tribute to the larger-than-life character.
Clare Lyons, proprietor of Battle Golf Club, said: “David was a big man in so many respects and fellow members lament his passing.
“He was, in fact, a very fine golfer, much better than his modesty would have given one the impression of being; unlike most of us, over many years, he actually played to his handicap.
“So David was that comparative rarity amongst golfers, a consistently good scorer.
“No doubt the mantelpiece bears testimony!
“He was an excellent captain, who did an enormous amount of work quietly in the background arranging domestic competitions and organising a wide fixture list against other clubs, at the same time building up good relationships with their captains and members.
“In personal combat he enjoyed winning, but at the same time was always generous in defeat. “In after-match speeches and on other social occasions he brought his own warmth and unique light to the proceedings and we were primed and ready to laugh with him.
“David had the enviable ability to turn a conversation that was becoming too earnest or going down much too serious a channel back to a more light-hearted level with just a smile or a jest.
“Others will attest to his much deserved period of mayoralty, leaving a host of good memories in the town he loved and in which his roots lay so firmly.
“We at the golf club will miss the big man and yet in our sadness are just happy to pay tribute to him today.”
Rother councillor Kevin Dixon had previously served alongside David on Battle Town Council.
He said: “I found David a man who was very committed to the town of Battle, and someone who was never afraid to remind you that he was Battle – born and bred!
“Because of that he always had a passion for Battle, and particularly for the town and its council to take charge of its own functions and destiny.
“He was very proud to be mayor of his town, and it is sad that his passing has robbed us of someone who had more to give to the community.”
David was a keen supporter of the Battel Bonfire Boyes.
Matt Southam, spokesperson for the group, said: “It was with great sadness that Battel Bonfire Boyes learnt of the passing of Mr Hussey.
“David was a fantastic supporter of the bonfire society and would regularly recount stories from his childhood about his experience of Battle bonfire.
“He was a friend to many members and his work and dedication to the town of Battle will be greatly missed. Our thoughts at this time are with David’s family.”
David’s life will be celebrated at St Mary’s Church, Battle, at 10am on Tuesday April 17.
Flowers are welcome, or donations can be made to Pancreatic Cancer UK via JustGiving - visit http://www.justgiving.com/Julianne-Hussey
* DAVID Hussey was a devoted member of Battle Town Council until ill health forced him to stand down from his role late last year.
Cllr Ron Harris, the current mayor of Battle, has paid tribute to his friend and fellow councillor:
“I know that I may speak on behalf of all Battle Town councillors and staff when I say how absolutely devastated we were to hear that David had passed away. But I also believe that I can also speak on behalf of all those many people around town that had come into contact with David over the years when I say that Battle has lost one of its finest.
As many will know David was born and bred in Battle, indeed in his early career he worked for the former Battle Rural District Council. But then he moved further afield to develop his career in local government and the water industry both in this country and abroad. He returned on retirement to live in Battle and took up his links with the many he went to school and grew up with – as well of course with his family members still living in Battle.
David wanted to return something to Battle for all it had given him. So he sought co-option to Battle Town Council in 2004 and was welcomed as one of the Watch Oak Ward councillors.
He quickly became a member of the town’s Planning Committee and chaired the Almonry Committee. He was also appointed a town council representative on the Local Area Transport Strategy Steering Group.
David then stood and was elected as a Marley Ward councillor at the 2007 elections. In 2008 he was elected by his fellow councillors, first to be Deputy Chairman of the town council and Deputy Town Mayor in 2008, and then as Chairman and Town Mayor in May 2009. It is possible that David’s time as Chairman may be remembered for leading the review of the council’s committee structure and for implementing the resulting changes. Again, he may be remembered for championing Battle Town Council being responsible for providing as many services to Battle’s townspeople as possible – “Local delivery of local services for the benefit of local people” was his slogan. But the certainty is that he is far more likely to be remembered not just by town councillors, but by all that came into contact with him, for his lightness of touch, his empathy with all he met and for the great sense of fun and humour which he brought to his duties. He will be sadly missed.
I know that all will want to join me in expressing deepest condolences to Maria and all David’s family members in their unbearable grief. I hope it helps them to know that the whole Battle community grieves with them.
The town is diminished by David’s departure.”