‘He was a big-hearted man of integrity’ – Tributes pour in for former Herts County Council chairman who loved Hitchin

Nigel Brook

Nigel Brook - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been pouring in for a war hero and former chairman of Herts County Council who has been described by his wife as a ‘big-hearted man of integrity’.

Nigel Brook – a dad to two children and five grandchildren – died at Garden House Hospice Care in Letchworth on Saturday at the age of 80, after a short battle with cancer.

The Hitchin Rotary Club president, who had lived in St Ipployts since marrying his wife Penny in 1992, fought with distinction as a commissioned officer in the Malaya Emergency in south east Asia during his national service between 1953 to 1955.

While on a troop ship to be deployed in what is now Malaysia, the keen sportsman stopped in Hong Kong and achieved the rare distinction of representing the British Army and Royal Navy in two rugby sevens games in one afternoon.

Mr Brook, who was a lifelong member of the Conservative Party and was the association president for the Hitchin and Harpenden branch at the time of his death, also helped at the scene of the Brighton hotel bombing in 1984 after an IRA bomb intended to kill PM Margaret Thatcher exploded at the Grand Hotel. Although Mrs Thatcher escaped injury, five people were killed.

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Born in Surrey in 1935, his career spanned 40 years working as a shipbroker in London. He was also a director of the Baltic Exchange before retiring in 1998, when he began working tirelessly for the Conservative Party.

Penny, his wife of 24 years, told the Comet: “It was a great privilege to have been married to Nigel. He was always a very positive person, even towards the end. He was a generous, big-hearted man of integrity.

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“He was totally fair and always had time to talk to everyone even when he went shopping in Waitrose. He was a people person.

“We were both at the Conservative Party Conference in 1984. I was staying in an inconsequential hotel around the corner and heard the bomb go off and went to see if I could help. Nigel, who was staying in another hotel, was also there trying to help.

“Nigel loved Hitchin. He loved the sense of community, the people and the area. He was a thoroughly nice man and I shall miss him dearly.”

Mr Brook was the chairman of Herts County Council between 2007 and 2009, and current leader Robert Gordon said: “I am saddened to hear of Nigel’s death who was not only a colleague but also a friend. Nigel was a committed representative of his constituents and a respected chairman.

“He will be sorely missed.”

The date of the funeral at St Mary’s Church in Hitchin is still to be confirmed.

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