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Among the surprises of Westcountry Urban and Rural District Council elections last week was the fact that no less than four chairmen of councils lost their seats.

1937 Wilkey Westward Ho!

A possible explanation is that many former supporters felt so sure their men would be returned that they did not trouble to vote for them, and then when the results were declared were so disappointed that they felt like kicking themselves. Among those who failed to get returned were the Chairman of Totnes Rural Council, who had been a member of the Council for thirty years and chairman for about twenty, and the chairman of Watchet Urban Council, with a service of 25 years, while to come nearer home, Mr F Wilkey, a member of Northam Council for 27 years, and for three years past its chairman, lost his seat – in the Westward Ho! Ward. There was only a difference of seven votes between four of the five candidates for three seats.

In Mr Wilkey the Council is losing a late chairman with an exceptional experience of public service even apart from his work on the council. His zeal in the common weal found recognition, it may be remembered, by the bestowal of the Royal Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935. A past president of Northam and Westward Ho! Chamber of Commerce, and some 24 years secretary of Northam Burrows Committee, in addition to filling numerous other offices, there is no member of the Urban Council who has devoted so much time to public work. Among Mr Wilkey’s activities which come to mind in addition to those already mentioned, are a twelve years’ membership of the old Board of Guardians, and subsequent membership of the Bideford-Torrington Guardians Committee of Devon Public Assistance Committee; a Land Tax commissioner; chairman of Northam Rating Committee, of the District Old-Age Pensions Sub-Committee, of Northam and Westward Ho! Jubilee Celebrations Committee, of the Coronation Celebrations Committee for Westward Ho! Ward, of the local Conservative Association, Westward Ho!, was vice-chairman of Northam War Tribunal, and a member of Bideford and Northam Joint Isolation Hospital Committee and of Bideford and District (North Devon) Joint Isolation Hospital, of Barnstaple Port Sanitary Authority, and of Northam Church Council. A record, surely, to be proud of.

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