The meeting of Epping Forest District Council began with a minute’s silence as members remembered fellow councillor, Brian Rolfe.
Councillor Rolfe passed away on Saturday
Council Chairman, Mary Sartin led tributes, remembering the bonds of friendship that grew when they met in 2007, and when she served as Vice-Chairman during Brian’s year as Chairman of Council.
Councillors across the chamber stood to offer memories of a much-loved colleague. Brian Rolfe was one of the oldest and most experienced district councillors. Local government can be complicated and confusing to a new councillor. Colleagues described how Brian took interest and quietly supported new councillors with reassuring words of advice and encouragement.
Brian was famous for his long conversations. Mary Sartin recalled the struggle she would sometimes have, getting her husband, John, off the phone as he and Brian discussed the fortunes of Arsenal and put the world to rights. Councillor Chris Whitbread recalled the times Brian would call in at his shop in Epping High Street or stop to chat while raising money through Epping Rotary, describing him as loyal, truthful and insightful – never afraid to tell you the truth.
As a ‘Loughton Lad’ Caroline Pond brought smiles around the chamber as she speculated that Brian could have been ‘one of use’, meaning the Loughton Residents Association. Such was the regard in which he was held across the opposition benches as well as among his fellow Conservative colleagues.
In council meetings Richard Morgan used to sit next to Brian and expressed his great sadness as he spoke beside Brian’s empty seat. Louise Mead described how kind he was when she was elected. They served together on the Housing Appeals Panel and tears flowed after a particularly upsetting case. There were no ‘sides’ to Brian. He really cared.
John Philip spoke for himself and former councillor Sue Jones who listened from the public gallery as he described Brian as a true gentleman.
Others to speak included councillors Jaymey McIvor, John Whitehouse, Holly Whitbread and Nigel Bedford who brought smiles to the chamber as he remembered being dragged out to Lambourne to look at a hedge, and ‘this lad thing’, of a fatherly figure who brought people under his wing.
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