Tributes paid to ‘simply irreplaceable’ councillor David Simmons following his death
David Simmons – one of Adur’s most popular and well-respected councillors who ‘had time for everyone’ and helped countless people – has sadly died.
Mr Simmons represented Cokeham ward from 2006 to 2014, and Hillside ward, Southwick, from 2014 until the time of his death, and was Adur District Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing until 2020. He passed away peacefully last Friday.
Prior to retirement at the rank of Inspector, David had a successful 30-year-career with Sussex Police. He was also the serving chair of the Sir Robert Woodard Academy’s governing body, and a former West Sussex County Councillor, representing Southwick, until May this year.
He leaves a widow, Pauline, plus a son, Damon, and two daughters, Paula and Hanna, with his late wife, Tina, and 14 grandchildren.
Mr Simmons was renowned throughout Adur and West Sussex as a man with an unrivalled work ethic, strong sense of community and a phenomenal desire to help people and champion the underdog.
During his time as both a senior police officer and subsequent election as a councillor in 2006, he fought tirelessly to help local people, particularly the young and those with special educational needs. He also strived to improve community race relations and to divert young people away from lives of crime. Following his death, friends and colleagues gave thanks for the huge contribution he made to local communities and highlighted his lasting legacy.
East Worthing & Shoreham MP Tim Loughton said: “Dave was one of the hardest working and most dedicated councillors I have ever had the pleasure to work with and I am immensely grateful for all the kindness he showed me. He gave so much to his community, in so many ways, and will be greatly missed by many constituents.
“Whether it was his involvement with the schools he served as Governor such as the Sir Robert Woodard Academy, his distinguished career in the police service, his work on protecting vulnerable children and families both at County Hall and at Adur, his support for his church and particularly through the choir, or his skill and compassion in just solving problems for local people as a local councillor, Dave always threw himself into everything he did with great gusto and success.
“He could always be relied on to take up problems and casework and see them through and he was highly effective in the many years of public service that he generously gave and which touched so many people’s lives for the better. He will be very, very hard to replace and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, of whom I am proud and fortunate to have been one of many.”
Neil Parkin, leader of Adur District Council, added: “It is with great sadness that I learned of Dave’s death last week. He was a true gentleman and worked tirelessly and with phenomenal energy to make our communities a better place.
“He was committed to giving everyone a voice and had time for everybody, despite his incredibly busy schedule. I have never met anybody with more commitment, passion and a very sincere desire to help. He touched countless lives across this county, in an incredibly positive way, and leaves a lasting and enduring legacy.”
Adur council chairman Stephen Chipp was also deeply saddened. He said: “Dave was the first executive member I interviewed in my role as new member of the scrutiny committee back in 2014. I actually apologised for submitting so many questions in my first meeting and he told me that he was delighted to have been asked so many relevant questions relating to his portfolio.
“I found Dave to be a true gentleman, dedicated to his role as a councillor and also great company just for a social chat. He will be sorely missed by all of us at the council and I would like to extend my own sincerest condolences to his loved ones. ”
Sir Robert Woodard Academy principal Kieran Scanlon highlighted the major role that Mr Simmons played in the Lancing school’s success.
He said: “Dave joined the Academy in 2013, as a councillor. He took over as chair in 2015 and I can honestly say he played a huge part in helping to build the momentum that the Academy enjoys today.
“He has supported me personally in good times and bad, he was a great listening ear and a critical friend when he needed to be. More than anything he had great faith in the staff and pupils of the Sir Robert Woodard Academy and he will be sorely missed. “
Close family friend the Rev Pat Alden emphasised Mr Simmons’ contribution to St Nicolas Church in Shoreham. Rev Alden said: “Dave was a member of St Nicolas Church for many years, sang in the choir and was the principal soloist at all important times. He also sang with several choirs including the Shoreham Chamber choir.
“He had enjoyed singing from a very early age and his voice will be sorely missed.
“Thank you, Dave, for all the contributions you made to our choir as well as to the worship and life of the church, as well as the community you served.”
Finally, his close friend councillor Joss Loader paid tribute to his warmth and humanity.
She said: “Kindness can be a very under-valued attribute but Dave always had time and genuine concern for people, particularly those who felt they lacked a voice and were enduring real problems and hardship.
“His humanity, compassion and sheer kindness always shone through. respected him hugely as a councillor, school governor and community worker but above all I valued him as my friend.
“Dave was one of a kind – he is simply irreplaceable.”
The funeral service will take place in Shoreham on a date to be confirmed. As a mark of respect, the flag will fly at half mast at the Shoreham Centre on the day.A minute’s silence will be held at October’s full council meeting, plus the meetings of the joint strategic committee and joint overview and scrutiny committee this month.