Tributes paid to ‘true gentleman’ councillor who lost battle with leukaemia

Councillor Jim Blagden (credit Ashfield Independents)
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

Politicians paid tribute to a “real gentleman” councillor who lost his battle with cancer earlier this summer.

Councillor Jim Blagden (Ash Ind) died in July aged 74 after relapsing during a fight with leukaemia.

At the time of his death, he was continuing to represent Hucknall Central on Ashfield District Council.

The councillor had previously been a bricklayer, a first aid instructor at St John Ambulance and a school caretaker.

Earlier this year he had a period of improved health before his leukaemia returned.

A council meeting was told he leaves behind his childhood sweetheart and wife of 55 years Sheila, family and friends and residents of Hucknall – who he had presented for several years both for the Ashfield Independents and Labour.

Tributes were paid to him during the Ashfield District Council full council meeting on Thursday (September 29) with Cllr Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), the authority’s leader, one of those who shared memories.

He said: “He always did everything in this council, all the tough stuff, with a smile, and he was passionate particularly about our Covid recovery committee, trying to get our communities back on track.

“Even in the period where he had leukaemia and was really poorly, we had to tell him off because he was literally at the City Hospital turning it into part of his council office.

“He never let anybody know how poorly he was and we all thought he’d turned a corner but sadly he hadn’t. That was Jim’s character – he didn’t want to worry any of us and he wanted to fight on and try to do his best.

“He leaves an enormous legacy, I hope there are ways we can look at commemorating his life because I know he’s left an enormous hole.”

Cllr Lee Waters (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall North, also shared his memories of Cllr Blagden.

He said: “I will sorely miss Jim, he was more than a colleague – he was a friend. Jim would often give me lifts home after meetings and he would always say ‘whatever is said in the chamber stays in the chamber, don’t take it personal’.

“Jim had time for everyone, regardless of background or views. He was a true gentleman. This is my first term as a councillor and had the good fortune of being buddied up with Jim.

“He was my mentor, he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes, he told me who I should contact and how to get things done. I learnt a lot from him and I will always be grateful to him.”

Cllr Blagden was also a season ticket holder at Nottingham Forest and an avid painter in his spare time.

The chamber also paid tribute to another former long-standing Hucknall Labour councillor and council leader, Ken Creed, who represented the town for 28 years.

He was the council leader for several years before stepping down in 2008.

The former councillor died peacefully on August 19 aged 82.

Paying tribute in the meeting, Cllr Chris Baron (Con), who represents Hucknall West and is a former Labour council leader, said: “Ken introduced me to the council many years ago and was somebody who I really respected.

“I always believed Ken to be very fair, very honest. In those days, when you had almost three factions of Sutton, Kirkby and Hucknall all often bickering, he always tried to get everybody over the line for the best of the district.

“It’s not an easy task and I will miss Ken.”

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