Warm tributes have been paid to a long-serving East Sussex councillor at a meeting this week.
At a full council meeting on Tuesday (December 4), members of East Sussex County Council paid their respects to Bexhill West councillor Stuart Earl, who died from pancreatic cancer in October this year.
During the meeting, each of the council’s political groups paid tribute to the independent councillor before a minute’s silence was held.
Council leader Keith Glazier said: “I think we can all agree that in the time Stuart spent here as a county councillor, everything that he attempted to do was for the benefit of his community.
“On a personal note, I knew Stuart for a really long time and not only was he professional in the way he delivered for his community but actually he was a very good friend.
“He was someone who cared passionately about the people of Bexhill and East Sussex and he was prepared to go the extra mile.
“I think what differentiates someone like Stuart is just how much hard work he put in across the community. He will be missed and will be a really hard act to follow.
“As we go forward, I think if we all model how we behave and how we work for our communities on the legacy that Stuart left then it wouldn’t do any of us any harm.”
Tributes were also paid by Cllr Charles Clark, who served with Cllr Earl as a fellow independent councillor representing Bexhill.
Cllr Clark said: “Stuart Earl was a fellow councillor and a really good friend for 20 years. He had a wonderful sense of humour, but told he told terrible jokes.
“He was a great councillor. He loved his town of Bexhill and was honest, hardworking and always available for his residents. And, as has been said, he was a lovely man to sit down and chat to.
“He supported many charities and served on Rother District Council and the County Council for six years. He was a former mayor of Bexhill and that was something he was very proud of because he loved his town.
“He was taken from us far too soon and I will miss him. He was a thoroughly honest and decent human being.”
Tributes were also paid on behalf of the council’s Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors by Cllr David Tutt and Cllr Godfrey Daniel.
Speaking on behalf of Labour councillors, Cllr Daniel said: “He had warmth, he had passion he had a great sense of humour. He could do self-deprecation and he didn’t take himself too seriously despite his status as a district and county councillor.
“I think that goes to to the quality of the man himself.
“He was somebody you could relax with and he would challenge you if he thought you were wrong.
“I for one will miss him and I’m sure my colleagues will as well. He has made an impression on all of us who have met him and know him.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Tutt spoke of how he had first met Stuart Earl before he became a county councillor, when the Bexhill business owner acted a guest speaker at a young enterprise event in Eastbourne.
Cllr Tutt said: “He was happy to give that knowledge and his time freely, not just within his own [town] but the wider East Sussex community.
“He was an entertaining speaker and was someone with considerable knowledge with of his patch of Bexhill.
“Often we would talk about politics, and indeed other things. In those last few months it was clear he was unwell and… he had a pretty rough period of time. I don’t think any of us realised just how serious his illness was and I’m not even sure he did himself.
“He passed on too quickly and will be fondly remembered.”
Huw Oxburgh , Local Democracy Reporting Service