A concert to remember the life of well-known Steyning man George Cockman is due to be held next weekend.
George, a former independent councillor for Horsham District Council, died of a brain haemorrhage in July 2016 at the age of 77.
On Saturday, May 6 – the day that would have been George’s 78th birthday – a concert will be held, at St Andrew’s Church, in Steyning, to remember his life.
A number of people who came into contact with George throughout his life are expected to sing songs, read poems and quote literature at the concert which starts at 2pm.
His son Giles Cockman, 42, said he and his family decided to put on the concert after the ‘amazing’ support they received after his father’s death.
He said: “A number of people asked us at the funeral to help commemorate his life. He came into contact with so many people, whether through his role with the church, the school or the council. He was very well-known in the community.
“In the days after his death, my mother received 300 cards and about 20 bouquets of flowers from people who had come into contact with dad over the years.”
George was born in Epsom, Surrey, before moving to Steyning in 1969 to take up the role of head of RE at Steyning Grammar School.
His time at the school spanned five decades and exactly 100 school terms.
He also served as head of adult education and deputy head of the school before leaving in the early 2000s.
A graduate from Oxford University, George served Steyning as an independent councillor for Horsham District Council for twenty years.
He was also deeply involved with St Andrew’s Church where he often led services and was tower captain of the bell ringers.
Giles added: “Dad was always fighting for the underdog. Whether this was at the school or at the church, he was always working to make sure people were treated fairly.
“He always saw the best in people and wanted the best for people.
“I think this helped him as a councillor because he had the opportunity to serve the community.”
George was survived by his wife Beulah, 74, whom he met whilst studying a masters in theology at Cambridge University, his daughter Emma, 48, and son Giles.
He also had two grandchildren – Skye and Susanna.
Speaking of his father’s legacy, Giles said: “He was my dad. Despite being busy he still somehow managed to give time to me and my sister.
“From a personal perspective, the grief is getting harder not easier.
“Dad was someone who not only preached from the pulpit, but truly lived out his Christian faith in acts of service across the community. I hugely admired his humility and endless energy.
“He was awarded an MBE in 1999 and leaves behind the legacy of the Steyning Leisure Centre and swimming pool, St. Cuthman, the Year 2000 celebrations, historical research – and how he enriched the lives of so many wearing the hats of councillor, musician, teacher, lay reader, lay chaplain, deputy head and author.
“I am just very humbled that he was my dad.
“He has left a very big pair of shoes to fill.”
Before the concert begins next Saturday, St Andrew’s and St Cuthman’s Bell Ringers will ring in honour of George.
This will be followed by Holsworthy Bells by SS Wesley played on the organ by Brian Sawyer.