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Tributes paid to former parish council chair and town’s Person of the Year

Mike Mills

TRIBUTES have been paid to Melksham’s Person of the Year 2017 and former parish councillor, Mike Mills, who died at the age of 74 on Saturday 3rd February.

The much-loved and well-respected Bowerhill resident passed away peacefully at Malvern House Care Home after a short illness.

Mike was voted ‘Person of the Year’ for 2017 for his work and passion for the community, with many of his supporters praising his spirit and tireless efforts with local groups such as the Bowerhill Residents Action Group (BRAG), describing him as irreplaceable.

Mike was a Melksham Without Parish Councillor for 27 years, joining the council in 1991 before retiring due to ill-health in December last year. From 2001 until 2013, he was the chairman for the council and is the longest-serving chairman in the council’s history.

Tributes have been paid, with chair of Melksham Without Parish Council, Richard Wood saying, “Mike was a gentle, affable man and always willing to see the best in someone. He was great for the whole parish. I met him in 2006 when I was co-opted onto the council, he made me feel very welcome and I was struck by how inclusive the group was; I think it was Mike who set the tone for that.

“It was a pleasure working with him. He really did live and breathe the parish. He was always a positive person, looking to move things on and be proactive and seek a solution. We are going to miss him terribly.”

Vice chair for Melksham Without Parish Council, John Glover said, “I first met Mike in 1968 when we were both on a MOD project. His attitude to life then was the same as it was when I met up with him again on the council, 30 years later. He was a gentleman, you knew that if you spoke to Mike that you would get a considered response, no matter how outlandish your thoughts were.

“He threw himself into looking after different aspects of Bowerhill, like the village hall, BRAG, picnic area and litter picks.

“Mike was always calm and collected and sought to find compromise and a solution that was of benefit to the residents of Melksham Without.”

In his time as councillor, Mike was involved in a number of projects. He was instrumental in getting a new village hall for Bowerhill, where he was chairman of the village hall management committee.

He was also chairman of BRAG for many years and played a huge role in the setting up of the canal picnic area, which was officially opened in October 2010.

He was part of South West in Bloom and Melksham in Bloom, and under his watch the canal picnic area won a SWIB ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ gold award two years running, due to the hard work of BRAG.

Other community groups that Mike got involved with included the Melksham Community Safety Group and the Bowerhill Youth Club.

Mike’s funeral service takes place on Tuesday 20th February, 12.30pm at St Michael’s Church, Melksham. The family have requested no black tie and family flowers only. Donations can be made in Mike’s memory to Cancer Research UK via DJ Bewley Funeral Directors.

Mike was born the youngest son of Arthur and Joyce Mills on 1st October 1943 at Randwick near Stroud, Gloucestershire. In 1948 the family moved in with his aunt and uncle and cousins at Eastington and in 1950 the family moved into a council house at Stonehouse, near Stroud, where he lived until his marriage.

His early school days were at Eastington primary and junior and he then went on to Marling Grammar School, Stroud, when he passed his 11-plus. Due to his father’s early death in 1961, when Mike was 17, he gave up doing his A-levels due to his mother being a 10shillings widow and instead, went to work in the Civil Service at No7 Maintenance Unit RAF Quedgeley, to bring money into the home.

It was here that he met Marilyn and in September 1966 they were married at St Barnabas Church, Tuffley, Gloucester and set up home nearby. In October ’67 their daughter Lisa was born, followed by their son Simon in April 1970.

Mike went into working with computers in 1966, first training as a programmer and later as systems analyst. In 1969 he moved from Quedgeley and went to work at RAF Innsworth where he stayed until he was posted in 1979 to Horton Road in Devizes and the family moved to Bowerhill, Melksham. He came out of the MOD in 1969 and went to work for ICL, later Fujitsui, where he retired in 2005.

Mike had a love of sport and in his younger days he played football, cricket and tennis. He was also   a keen table tennis player and played for the Civil Service in Gloucester and also Beanacre in Melksham. He acted as linesman for Avon Boys in the 80s, who his son played for, and in later years he would go and watch his grandsons play. He had always been a follower of Swindon Town since a young lad.

He and Marilyn both loved to travel and had been to many interesting places around the world. They both loved quizzes and were regulars at The Pilot’s quiz nights on Thursday evenings. They both enjoyed watching tennis and regularly went to Queen’s and were lucky to get tickets for semi-finals day at the 2012 Olympics.

For the last 10 years Mike had been doing his family tree and had found many fascinating facts on both his mother’s and father’s side.

Outside of his council and community work his family came first and he was always there to support them. Beside his wife and two children he leaves behind four grandsons, two grand-daughters, three great-grand-daughters and a great-grandson who was born 4 weeks before his death. Sadly he died before another great-grandson was born, due in March.

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