Torridge flies flag at half mast to remember councillor

Steve Clarke OBE was a Torridge District and Bideford Town councillor.

Steve Clarke OBE was a Torridge District and Bideford Town councillor. - Credit: Archant

Dozens more tributes have been paid to the Bideford town and district councillor Steve Clarke, who died on Tuesday.

TORRIDGE District Council has today lowered the flag outside Riverbank House to honour a councillor who died this week.

Earlier today, the Gazette reported Councillor Steve Clarke OBE, who was a ward member for Bideford East, passed away peacefully at his home on Tuesday.

Councillor Philip Collins, leader of Torridge District Council, said: “Steve will be remembered for years to come for his sincerity, open critical friendship and observation, passion for Bideford and not least his recent sterling work with the Bideford Sea Cadets.

“He was instrumental in turning Torridge around to become a much improved council in his years as deputy leader. My thoughts are with his family.”

Dozens of councillors and council workers at Torridge have paid tribute to Cllr Clarke, who was described as colleague and friend.

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Cllr Andrew Eastman, vice chair of Torridge, described Cllr Clarke as ‘a legend in his time’.

He said: “I am very proud to have been involved with the Sea Cadet Project with Steve; it was an ambition of his to get a beautiful new HQ building in the Park.

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“He will be sadly missed, may perpetual light shine on his soul.”

‘Common sense approach’

Cllr Tony Inch, chairman of Torridge, said Cllr Clarke always came up with other side of the debate, and made the council more business-like.

Meanwhile Cllr Roger Tisdale said he would miss Steve’s common sense approach to issue in both Bideford and Torridge.

Cllr Kathy Murdoch added: “. Steve was unique in so many ways, his unassuming and kind nature and his passion to stick to his guns when he really believed in something is what I will remember him for most.

“There are so many lives he touched that he did not even know about - I will miss him so much, both as a colleague and a very great friend.”

Cllr Margaret Brown said he always had the community at heart, and would remember him for bringing the Kathleen and May to Bideford.

‘Huge loss for Torridge’

Cllr Phil Pennington said: “I did not always agree with Steve’s political views, but have known of him and his work for the community for 40 years.

“A huge loss for Torridge, Bideford Town Council, the Sea Cadets and many beyond. Steve changed the direction of Torridge. I will hold this in my memory.

“Steve was fundamental in enabling tremendous improvement in our council. My special thoughts are with Marilyn and the family.”

John van de Laarschot was chief executive of Torridge when Cllr Clarke was deputy leader. He said: “I am deeply sorry to hear of the death of Cllr Clarke.

“He was one of a kind, a larger than life character filled with passion, a driven man who cared about Torridge and fought long and hard to improve the economic and social wellbeing for all fortunate enough to live in or visit the area.

“From a personal perspective Cllr Clarke was largely responsible for my acceptance into the public sector and for that I shall always be grateful.

“I recall with fond memories the many times we crossed swords only to eventually secure alignment on key and pressing issues.

“His death will be a huge loss not only for his family and friends but for all of the residents and businesses living and working in and around Torridge.”

‘Heart of gold’

Officers at the council have also paid tribute to Cllr Clarke.

Vanessa Saunders, special projects manager said: “Steve was a unique man with a heart of gold. I will miss his ideas, his friendship and his ability to always look on the bright side of life.”

Ray Webster, head of environmental health, housing, and public protection, said of Cllr Clarke: “He has, over the years, done a lot for Bideford, and has assisted many people along the way, often without recognition.

“He was a prime mover in the Millennium New Year’s Eve celebrations and firework display, and took great pleasure in erecting the new Sea Cadets centre, which was an ambition of his for a number of years.”

To read more tributes from Steve’s friends and colleagues, click here.

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