Tributes to former Ashtead councillor who died five days into retirement
A POPULAR councillor has died just days after stepping down from his seat.
David Howell, who represented Ashtead Common on Mole Valley District Council from 2004 until this month, chose not to stand in the elections on May 3.
Mr Howell, who was leader of the Ashtead Independent group and deputy leader of the council until the election, died of a heart attack at his holiday cottage in Scotland on May 8. He was 63.
Councillor Chris Townsend, who led the Ashtead Independents until Mr Howell took over in 2006, said: "I'm shattered. When I was told I found it just beyond belief.
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"He had a wonderful party at his house on Sunday (May 6) in celebration of our wins. It was a joyous occasion and then 48 hours later he's gone.
"It's a sad loss for Ashtead, it's a sad loss for Mole Valley. He was a good, kind man and a great ambassador for Independents and Ashtead."
Mr Howell leaves behind his wife Sue, daughters Helen and Katherine, son Michael and five grandchildren.
Council leader James Friend said: "He was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. A mentor, a friend, somebody who you could pick the phone up to at any time, day or night – and I often did.
"We spoke to each other every day or every other day. As a leader and deputy leader that's what you do and he was just magnificent, a true gentleman."
Mr Howell was a trustee of the Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall and served as a governor of St Giles' School for nearly 20 years, retiring three years ago.
He was responsible for organising a major £250,000 refurbishment in 2004/5, working with the current chairman of governors Dr Vivien Lingard.
Dr Lingard said: "He was a lovely man and he always had a smile too. He had a critical eye but was very laid-back at the same time. He was just great."
Former Lib Dem leader Margaret Cooksey said: "It is a huge loss to everybody."
An engineer by profession, Mr Howell was a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and ran his own consultancy business, as well as leading UK trade missions abroad for the government.
Mr Howell's funeral service will be held at St George's Church in Ashtead on May 25 at 11am.