Tributes as former council leader dies
FRIENDS and family have paid tribute to a former leader of the council – deemed an ‘outstanding public servant’ – after he lost his battle against cancer John Toomer died on Sunday, August 18, age 79, following a three-month fight with a form of bone cancer.
John was well-known throughout Swindon for his achievements while serving as Swindon’s Conservative council leader, for running the popular John Toomer Garden Centre and for his participation with the town’s rugby club.
The father of two 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.
His son Paul, who will continue running the garden centre which has been in his family for eight generations, said his father was a fantastic man.
“He was always a real gentleman,” he said.
“He was hard working. He was a fantastic father and I was very proud of all he achieved.”
“He was the sort of person who would put Swindon first, politics was second,” said Coun Bawden. “There was far more tighter working between Labour and Conservatives. He was dedicated to Swindon and liked to get decisions made.”
Ian Handy, who has been friends with John for nearly 60 years, said the former front row rugby player enjoyed a range of sports.
“He enjoyed all of his sports, playing cricket and golf, but rugby was his greatest pleasure,” said Ian.
He said that when John took part in a two-year national service he was commissioned to travel to Nigeria on secondment. “It’s a considerable achievement to have been commissioned during your national service,” he added.
MP for South Swindon Robert Buckland said he was very sad to hear the news.
“John was an outstanding public servant who led Swindon with distinction for many years,” said Mr Buckland.
“He was not just a loyal Conservative but also looked beyond party politics to do what was right for the whole of Swindon’s community.”
A Thanksgiving service in Mr Toomer’s honour will take place at Christ Church in Old Town on Friday, September 13. Everyone is welcome, and donations can be made to the Macmillan Cancer Support and the Prospect Hospice.
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