Tributes have been paid to serving Torridge and Bideford councillor Mervyn Langmead, who died this morning (Thursday).
Mr Langmead was a well-known figure in Bideford, and served the town as mayor in 2014-15.
He was first elected to Torridge District Council in 2011 and went on to hold a number of senior positions alongside representing the Bideford East ward, including chair of the council, external scrutiny and standards.
He also sat on the council’s planning, licensing, harbour and internal scrutiny committees.
On the town council, Mr Langmead was a representative at Bideford and District Community Archive, a joint-chairman of the One Bideford Committee and was the police liaison representative.
Torridge District Council leader Jane Whittaker said Mr Langmead ‘worked tirelessly’ for the community and had intended to stand for council again in the upcoming elections.
“To hear the very unexpected news about Cllr Langmead this morning was a huge shock,” she said.
“During his eight years as an East-the-Water Member he’d worked tirelessly for his community and was looking forward to continuing that commitment in the next council.
“He was a great councillor colleague, and had become a firm friend, was an active lead member for the waste and recycling service and a very valued member of the ‘Conservative Team’.
“All of our thoughts are with Gill and the family at this very difficult time.”
Torridge District Council’s deputy leader, Councillor David Hurley, said the council ‘won’t be the same without him’.
He said: “I was deeply saddened to hear this morning the news of Cllr Langmead’s passing.
“I have known Mervyn for a comparatively short time but knew from the start that he was a man who knew his own mind and wasn’t afraid to speak up when others declined to do so.
“He was a family man and a Councillor who believed passionately in Bideford as a whole, and the residents of his East-the-Water Ward in particular.
“My thoughts go out to Gill at this sad time. Mervyn will be missed. I know TDC won’t be the same without him.”
Mayor of Bideford, Councillor Doug Bushby, said: “Not only have we lost a great Councillor and supporter of Bideford, but also a great friend personally. He will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with Gill and the family.”
Torridge District Council chairman, Councillor Simon Inch, said: Mervyn was a good councillor who always spoke his mind on any debate.
“He will be especially missed on the plans committee, both on district and Bideford Town Council, where his knowledge of the building trade was a great asset to both councils.
“He was also a past Chairman of the Council and Mayor of Bideford and he carried out his duties to the highest level. I send my condolences to Gill and the whole family at this time, RIP Mervyn.”
Councillor Dermot McGeough, ward member for Bideford North, said: “I am deeply saddened to hear this heartbreaking news.
“My thoughts are with Gill and his family, Mervyn was a family man first and a great councillor second.
“His commitment to Torridge and his community was exemplary. He has been my mentor since I was first elected and he will always be in my heart. I thank him for everything he did for my family and my son Atlas who he spoilt rotten. Sleep with the angels Merv.”
As well as his work as a councillor, Mervyn was president of the Bideford AFC Youth club, a role which he took on around four years ago.
Secretary Neil Blackburn said the whole youth club was shocked by his passing.
“He worked tirelessly for the club, and helped us grow to over 350 members,” he said.
“He was a huge supporter of Bideford AFC Youth and gave us considerable support; he will be very sorely missed.”
Councillor Philip Pennington, ward member for Monkleigh and Littleham, said: “Mervyn and I clashed many times.
“However, on a planning pre site visit to the old Geneva building I realised we had so much in common.
“We both went to the same school. It seems we both learned most when applying practical skills after leaving that beloved institution.
“Mervyn fought hard for all that he believed in. I was in Bideford this afternoon and four members of the public spoke of their sadness.
“One from the rugby club and one from the Boxing Club.
“Apparently, for the work he did to improve the Boxing Club he should get 10 bells.
“If I’d stayed longer I’m sure there would have been more. Our thoughts are with all the family.”
Councillor Tony Inch, ward member for Bideford South, said: “The sudden death of a true friend is always a shock, and to be told about the passing of Mervyn has saddened me very much today.
“He was a very good friend to both myself and my wife Michelle.
“As a councillor he worked so hard for his town of Bideford and for his ward of East the Water.
“Bideford Town Council and Torridge have lost a very good hard working councillor and both Michelle and I have lost a true friend indeed.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to Gill and to all his family and friends. R I P. Mervyn.”