'He will be greatly missed' - tributes paid after former St Austell mayor dies

Derek Collins, former St Austell Mayor

Tributes have been paid Derek Collins, the former Mayor of St Austell, who has died after illness at the age of 69.

Mr Collins' wife Gillian said she would remember Derek as someone with a dry sense of humour who was a “good man”.

Recalling how she met him, she said: “I came down to Cornwall with a friend who was working in St Mawes. I had been living in London at the time, but I had glandular fever and my friend invited me to take some time out and come down to Cornwall.

“I met Derek at Portscatho Social Club, I was looking for somewhere to stay at the time and looking for work and his parents very kindly put me up and it just developed from there.”

The couple married in 1980 at St Austell Register Office. Mrs Collins said: “Derek had such a dry sense of humour. He was a good man, but he suffered quite a lot of ill health."

Derek was one of the founding members of the community radio station in St Austell and could often be heard across the airwaves.

Mrs Collins said “He loved anything to do with music and radio, and when he was at Radio St Austell Bay, he was very very happy there.”

As well as being a town councillor and a community radio volunteer, Mr Collins also had a keen interest in wrestling.

His wife explained: “He loved his wrestling, he liked the American wrestling, but he was really interested in British wrestling. He used to film the British wrestling reunions and would go all over the country.”

As his work in the community developed, he eventually stood as a councillor on St Austell Town Council.

Mrs Collins said: “He just came home one evening and said that he had been asked to get involved in the town council. He was very much involved in the planning side of things and I think he wanted to just help people.”

One of Mr Collins’ proudest moments was when he was named Mayor of St Austell, taking over the role from Steve Double, who is now the town’s MP.

Mr Collins relished the chance to represent the town at various events, donning the mayoral chains and gown. He was particularly proud to lead the Remembrance parade during his time in office.

Mrs Collins said: “He really enjoyed it and all the different things that he got to go to and take part in. I didn’t go very often, I wasn’t a huge part of it, but I do know he was proud to be Mayor. The remembrance parade he really loved, he was always interested in that so to lead the parade was an honour for him.”

Richard Pears, the current Mayor of St Austell also paid tribute to Mr Collins.

He said: “Derek was a very able councillor and chaired the town council’s planning committee through some very difficult planning applications.

“When he was Mayor he was instrumental in setting up the Anti-Social Behaviour Summit which was the start of better partnership working between the various agencies and has resulted in less anti-social behaviour and more joined up help for those who need it most. 

"He was a character and would always be willing to help out when he could with community activities.  My sincere condolences go out to his family.”

Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said “I was very sad to hear of the passing of Derek Collins. Derek was my deputy when I was Mayor of St Austell and followed me as Mayor.

“I always enjoyed working with Derek and valued his support. He was always a great encouragement to me personally and was never backward in letting you know his views.

"At heart he was a local man who loved this part of Cornwall and I know he was hugely honoured to be Mayor and serve our community. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. I know he will be greatly missed.”

Credit: Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy reporter