I was incredibly saddened to hear the news that Brian Prichard, the current Mayor of Wandsworth, died last night.
Brian had been a councillor in Wandsworth for over 40 years. Although he started off in the Labour Party, he realised that he was in the wrong party in the 70s and left, resigning his seat to join the Conservatives. He returned to the council at a subsequent election. He continued as a councillor ever since, and was retiring at next month’s election, so when he became Mayor of Wandsworth for 2009/10, I couldn’t think of a more fitting way for him to end his council career than as the borough’s first citizen.
I obviously knew him for the last twelve years when we were both on the council together, and although we were very dissimilar characters I think we got along well.
Part of that was his desire to correct some of my flaws. As a teetotal professor of medicine my smoking and drinking were abhorrent to him. Indeed, the small card I’ve featured in this post were scattered around the tables at the event held to commemorate his forty years on Wandsworth – a health warning he felt we should all heed, since he didn’t want us ending up with alcohol related conditions as a result of a celebration in his honour.
He scored a small success with me, as I gave up smoking in 2003. Although even then he couldn’t help but warn me that the method I was using, nicotine patches, still had their dangers since the nicotine affected blood and increased the risk of certain conditions (how and what I don’t remember, and if I’m honest didn’t understand at the time).
Brian and I were on several committees together during my first few years as a councillor, so I saw very early on the quick wit, deep intelligence and occasional sense of mischief he brought to the council. They were something that remained with him throughout and I always looked forward to meetings we attended together – even if he would never go for a drink afterwards!
I obviously only knew him as a councillor so can only begin to imagine the hole his passing will leave in all the other areas of his life, he was a truly inspirational councillor and man. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.