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Christopher Thurson Black 1939 - 2014

Chris_Black_2.jpgIt is with great sadness that we announce the death of Chris Black, former Bedford Borough Councillor and Bedfordshire County Councillor.

Chris, a lifetime member of the Labour Party who was dedicated to local politics and helping the community in Bedford, died on Saturday 26 July aged 75 years after a four year battle with cancer.

Born in Southampton in July 1939, Chris attended Peter Symonds Grammar school in Winchester, leaving in 1957 for Birmingham University where he obtained a degree in Physics in 1960.

He moved to Bedford with his wife Judith in 1963 to work for Texas Instruments. When Texas Instruments closed in Bedford in 1995 he joined former colleagues in setting up a new Engineering company, Spicer Consulting, which has grown and expanded over recent years.

Chris was dedicated to social justice and helping others. He was a highly respected and well liked councillor serving as a Bedfordshire County Councillor from 1972-78 and Bedford Borough Councillor from 1971-74 and 1995-2009. He was leader of Bedford Borough Labour Group from 2006- 2007.

Passionate about education and housing, Chris was Chair of the Education Committee in the 1970s when the new Comprehensive Upper schools were being set up. He also served as a governor and chair of governors for Hastingsbury Upper School until 2009.

From 2002-2009 he was executive member of Bedford Borough Council with responsibility for housing & planning. He was a board member of Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association, and a trustee for both Citizen’s Advice and the Re-Use recycling charity.

In recognition of his long years of service to the Labour Party, Chris received a National Merit Award from the party in March this year. He had been a member for 50 years and during that time had held nearly every office in the local party. He is thoroughly respected by his colleagues and remembered for his determination to fight for social justice plus his fairness and valuable advice.

Councillor Sue Oliver, Bedford Labour Group Leader, said:

"Chris was a highly respected and well liked councillor and member of the Labour Party. In many ways, my own political career has shadowed Chris' – first as ward Councillor in Kempston then Cauldwell, as Executive member and as Labour Group Leader. In each case I have found a legacy of the greatest respect amongst people who knew him.

Even after he retired from the Council in 2009, Chris maintained his links with the party. He was generous with time, money and sound advice.

Chris endured his illness with quiet fortitude and he died the day after his 75th birthday. He will be sadly missed."

Chris still found time pursue a wide range of interests showing his stamina and problem-solving spirit. He loved sailing and was a member of Grafham Water sailing club where he became a regular and proficient member of the Catamaran Sprint 15 Fleet. He has enjoyed hiking and camping in wild places including the Hebrides as well as developing more sedentary pursuits such as genealogy.

Chris leaves his wife, Judith, daughters Rosie and Hilary and his two grandsons, Jacob and Samuel whose achievements gave him immense pride.

A Humanist funeral ceremony to celebrate Chris’ life will take place on Wednesday 13 August 1.45pm at Bedford Crematorium, Norse Road. No flowers by request. The family have asked that those attending the funeral can wear light clothes if they wish.


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