Tributes to a ‘true gentleman’

THE life of a loving family man, dedicated councillor and ‘true gentleman’ from Backwell will be celebrated at a special thanksgiving service on Monday.

District councillor Tom Collinson, aged 81, died of a heart attack at his home in Dark Lane on June 29.

Tom is well-known and loved in North Somerset for his boundless enthusiasm and tireless work for the people of Backwell and Barrow Gurney.

Tom leaves behind his wife Gill, three children and three grandchildren. Gill Collinson said: “We have lived very happily in Backwell for 48 years. Tom loved sport, particularly cricket and rugby. When playing cricket for Flax Bourton he was team captain and treasurer when an active member.

“Another of Tom’s passions was mountaineering. Such enthusiasm took him from the peaks in the Lake District to the Alps, where he achieved his goal, the summit of the Matterhorn.

“Professionally, Tom was a a Fellow of the Institute of Structural Engineers. He continued with this work and was currently involved in projects that he loved.

“He became very involved with local politics. Firstly, with the parish council, and latterly an independent member of the district council, which took a huge amount of his time and which he very much enjoyed.

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“His tenacious ability on various planning issues, and community projects was amazing. His achievements locally are known to many and appreciated by all.”

Later in life, Tom became a member of Backwell Parish Council, the Residents’ Association and finally a North Somerset Councillor.

As a district councillor he worked tirelessly for the people of Backwell, along with fellow independent councillor Karen Barclay.

Cllr Barclay said: “It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to have been a friend of Tom Collinson’s and to have worked with him in varying capacities over the past 10 years.

“Tom was highly intelligent, a respected and well-qualified senior structural engineer. Tom’s engineering expertise was a great asset in his role as a councillor and he used it to great effect in keeping the planners and highway engineers at North Somerset Council on their toes.

“Even at 81 years of age Tom had tremendous energy and drive. He revelled in fighting injustice and was always selflessly willing to share his knowledge in helping individuals fight contentious decisions.

“He was totally committed to helping his constituents, and worked tirelessly in defending Backwell’s beautiful green fields against the threat of unwanted large-scale development.

“Backwell was very fortunate to have had Tom Collinson. He was a man of the utmost integrity, a true gentleman and someone who was prepared to take on the system and fight for what he believed in. We could do with more people like Tom in this world.”

Chairman of Backwell Parish Council, Colin Pope, added: “It’s with deep regret that the council learnt of the sudden death of our district councillor Tom Collinson. Tom worked very hard for Backwell and was prominent in maintaining its village status.

“He will be sadly missed. Our condolences go out to his wife Gill and his family at this very sad time.”

Cllr Collinson also worked very closely with Barrow Gurney Parish Council on a number of issues. Chairman Geoff Coombes said: “We were deeply saddened to hear the news. Tom was a great character who worked tirelessly on our behalf, in particular to try to improve the traffic problems of our parishes.

“He was very knowledgable on planning matters, often providing expert advice to planning inquiries and was a passionate supporter of a Barrow Gurney Bypass. This is a great loss to our communities.”

All those who knew Tom are welcome to attend a celebration of life service at St Andrew’s Church in Backwell at 2.30pm on Monday. Donations in memory of Tom will be going to Kidney Research UK.