The legacy of Crawley stalwart Jim Smith MBE will continue to live on as hundreds paid their respects to the community champion at an emotional service.
More than 350 people packed out St Margaret’s Church, in Ifield, to say a fond farewell to the four-time town mayor at his funeral on Monday (December 5).
So many wanted to pay their respects that they could not all squeeze into the building and 40 more gathered outside to listen to the service over a loud speaker.
Touching floral tributes were placed beside his mayoral robes, decorated in medals for his long service to the town, including one display shaped as a football, a sport which Jim loved and played for many years.
Jim, who was made an Honorary Freeman and Alderman for his service to the town, died at home on November 9 at the age of 89.
The former Crawley Borough councillor dedicated his life to Crawley, representing Langley Green for 22 years before serving Ifield and Gossops Green.
He spent 39 years on the council and was described as “a true public servant”, “full of humour and wisdom” and “a big presence”, being held in the highest regard by many who knew him.
Councillor Peter Lamb, leader of the council, said: “It’s sad to see Jim has passed. The council owes him a great debt for his many years of service but his legacy lives on in the lives of the people he touched and the town he helped create.”
As well as the borough council, Jim served as a county councillor from 1997 until 2009. He was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in January in recognition of his public service.
He leaves wife Brenda – a Crawley Borough councillor and two-time Mayor of Crawley – four adult children, seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Following the emotional service the family hosted a celebration of his life at the Hawth, a building which he was pivotal in bringing to the town and was one of his proudest achievements.
His long list of honours also includes being chairman of the Crawley Town Twinning Association (CTTA) from 1973 to 1998, president of CTTA from 1998 and president of Crawley Arts Council from 1995 to 2005.
He was a magistrate on the Crawley Bench from 1976 to 1997 and was also a trustee of the Courage-Dyer Recreational Trust, which funds projects which create and encourage recreational opportunities for residents of Crawley.
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