Tributes have been paid to Malcolm Tooze, a central figure in local government in Richmondshire for almost 25 years, who has died aged 86.
Originally from Somerset, where he gained a scholarship to Wellington School, his first taste of the North was at RAF Ouston in Northumberland on National Service. It was there that he met his future wife, Isabel, at a village dance and they married in 1959.
After working in local government in Durham and on Tyneside, in 1968 he was appointed as the last town clerk of Richmond Borough Council at the age of only 32, an appointment which had to be formally approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Following, reorganisation of local government in 1974 he worked for Richmondshire District Council and was its chief executive from 1980 to 1992.
Many of his initiatives are still visible in Richmond today including: the regeneration of the former gas works at Richmond waterfalls and the opening of the Batts; the building of Richmond Swimming Pool; the creation of the path along the former railway line, now part of the popular Easby Loop; and, the establishment of Gallowfields Trading Estate. Although, thankfully his idea of developing the Richmond Market Hall into an Arndale Shopping Centre did not happen!
In 1989, he recruited, as principal assistant clerk, Tony Clarke, who went on to become the last chief executive of Richmondshire District Council.
Leading the tributes, Baroness Harris of Richmond, a former chairman of Richmondshire District said: “He was a great friend, a brilliant administrator and saw the District Council through some tricky times. I always thought of him as the ideal of a civil servant; he was greatly admired and deeply respected wherever he went. What a great loss he is to Richmond and the wider community”
Malcolm had a long retirement and was active to the very end.
He and Isabel were long-time caravanners, but also travelled further afield.
They also enjoyed exploring all aspects of the local countryside and were keen birdwatchers. Malcolm, also remained a familiar figure in Richmond and continued to take an interest in local government, but generally kept to himself, his views on the recent creation of the North Yorkshire Council unitary authority.
He leaves behind, his wife Isabel and their two sons, Roger and Nigel.
There will be a private family funeral, but donations in his memory can be made to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance quoting reference Tooze D121488.