A packed congregation which included civic and community leaders heard Malton’s four-times town Mayor, Jason de Welburn Fitzgerald-Smith, described as Malton’s champion, at his packed funeral service at St Mary’s Priory, Old Malton, on Friday.
In a moving tribute, Town Clerk Mike Skehan, said: “He had a presence within the town which was unequalled.
He was a listener, willing to, and wanting to, hear everyone’s point of view and ducked no issues. He literally walked the town, opened doors and spoke to anyone and everyone. He had an easy and engaging manner, but worked hard at gauging opinion.”
Mr Fitzgerald-Smith had been a member of Malton Town Council for 11 years and became chairman of the Malton and Norton Town Centre Management Company which promoted the interests of businesses in the two towns, said Mr Skehan.
Mr Skehan added: “He had a real facility for identifying, appreciating and supporting people and organisations who were like-minded and committed to the future of Malton. He did not hesitate in lobbying against any plan that he felt was not in the town’s best interests.”
An accomplished cook, Mr Skehan paid tribute to his friend whom he said was proud to be the current holder of the Malton Food Festival Mayors’ Cook-off Championship. Tributes to his military career in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and The Royal Artillery were given by Jonathan Bates while the address was given by the Rev Peter Robinson who described him as “a gifted man with a zest for life and who put his gifts to the service of the community.”
Lessons were read by his son, Willoughby, and by Major Michael Blunt. His long-standing friend, Canon John Manchester also took part in the service.
Mr Fitzgerald-Smith’s coffin was preceded into the church by the Royal British Legion standard carried by local branch chairman, Paul Farndale, and at the end of the service The Last Post and Reveille were played by fellow town councillor, Jane Ford, followed by Elgar’s Nimrod played by organist Dr Raymond Sturdy.