Tributes paid to former Swindon Council leader John Toomer
“I KNOW I will die soon, but I will die the happiest man in the world because I have such a wonderful family.”
Last month, the former leader of Swindon Council lost his three-month battle with bone cancer and died on August 18 at the age of 79.
The service was led by the reverend Ian Tomkins, a nephew of John, who shared his own fond memories of his uncle.
Rev Tomkins said: “As a nephew of John it was a real privilege to lead this service for the family.
“He had this wonderful infectious laugh. You would always see him, brow furrowed in deep debate with someone and then he would just laugh.”
Ian Handy, who was best man at John’s wedding to wife Miriam in March 1958, read a moving tribute to his friend of 59 years.
“Several weeks ago when I was visiting John at home he said he would like me to say a few words. Then he eyeballed me and he said ‘be brief’,” he said.
“He was an extraordinary patient. He never complained about the pain he was in but he just wanted to what everybody else was doing, and the presence of his grandchildren worked like a tonic.”
Both John’s eldest and youngest grandchildren, Sam Toomer and Sarah Mattinson, read poems and John’s son, Paul, read Psalm 121.
The father-of-two was well-known throughout Swindon for his achievements including serving as council leader, for running the popular John Toomer Garden Centre and his participation with the town’s rugby club.
John was a great sports man, enjoying cricket and boxing.
After going to school in Dorset, John spent his national Service on a commission in Nigeria before returning to Swindon and joining the centuries-old family business, John Toomer & Sons, in 1954.
The father of two then served on the council between 1967 to 1974.
In that time he worked on a number of projects including the creation of the Brunel Shopping Centre and a number of new homes.
Guests at the memorial continued to remember John by joining the family at the Marriott Hotel after the service.
A retiring collection was held in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and the Prospect Hospice.
John leaves behind wife Miriam, children Paul and Claire and grandchildren Samuel, Joshua, Oliver and Sarah.
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