Final respects will be paid to a former Mayor of Malton when he is laid to rest this week.
Friends and colleagues are expected to turn out in force for the funeral service of Jason Fitzgerald-Smith at St Mary’s Priory Church, Old Malton, on Friday at 11am, where they will remember a man of strong views who fought passionately for the community in which he lived.
He passed away at Malton Hospital on Tuesday last week following a short illness.
His partner, Penny Campbell Adamson, said: “He was treated briefly in York Hospital and was so pleased to come back home to Malton Hospital, where the nursing staff cared for him so well.”
Raised in Knaresborough, Mr Fitzgerald-Smith moved to Ryedale in 1999 after a distinguished 27-year career with the Army and an appointment with NATO.
Penny said Ryedale was the “obvious choice” for the couple as he was well acquainted with the area from childhood visits, was passionate about horse racing, and the town had everything one could need in life.
“He was a proud Yorkshireman,” said Penny. “Because he travelled all over the world with the Army, all he wanted to do with his free time was to come back to North Yorkshire. We spent many summers up here renting a cottage. When he came to retire from Brussels, moving to Malton was the obvious choice.”
That decision set in motion a chain of events which would see Mr Fitzgerald-Smith become a central figure in local politics.
He became a member of Malton Town Council, serving as Mayor for four consecutive years, represented the district on the North Yorkshire Police Authority, and was chairman of the Malton, Norton & District Branch of the Conservative Association for which he would organise social and fundraising events.
Last year, he narrowly lost out in a bid to represent Malton in the North Yorkshire County Council elections, despite a campaign which saw him work morning, noon and night and go door-to-door to speak to the electorate.
At the time of his death, he was Malton’s Deputy Mayor and was once again front and centre of the fight against plans to build a supermarket on Wentworth Street Car Park.
Penny said the hundreds of letters, cards and calls of condolence and the practical support she had received from the community and people of Malton over the past week had been of great comfort to her.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” said. “I have been carried along on a tide of support.”
Tributes have also come from his colleagues on Malton Town Council.
Speaking of his “good friend,” Cllr Martin Dales, who served as Mayor of Malton on two occasions, said: “In everything he was involved, he gave his all and particularly through his membership of Malton Town Council as well as the local Conservative Association.
“He loved Malton, shouted for the town when Mayor and generally tried to ensure the town remained the great place that it is.
Cllr Paul Andrews described Mr Fitzgerald-Smith as a “good friend and a good political ally.”
He said: “He led the town through a very difficult few years and I am really sorry to hear about his loss which will be felt by many.”
Cllr Anne Hopkinson, his predecessor as Mayor, said of Mr Fitzgerald-Smith: “I can’t say enough about him. I just think he will be tremendously missed, particularly by the council but also all the people he knew!
Mr Fitzgerald-Smith is survived by his partner, Penny, and his two sons by a previous marriage.
Anyone attending Mr Fitzgerald-Smith’s funeral is invited to bring flowers or make a donation to Jack Berry House, the Injured Jockeys Fund or St Mary’s Church.