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Tributes paid to veteran former Great Cornard councillor, schoolteacher and trade unionist Mick Cornish

A veteran former councillor, schoolteacher and trade unionist – who proudly wore his moniker as an 'old lefty' – has been remembered for his lifetime of service to local politics, after his death at the age of 83.

Tributes have been paid to former Great Cornard and Sudbury councillor Mick Cornish, who died on Tuesday, December 22.

Born and raised in Suffolk, Mr Cornish was first elected to Great Cornard Parish Council in 1961 and the now-defunct West Suffolk County Council in 1964, later also serving on the unified county authority.

Former Great Cornard parish council chairman Mick Cornish.
Former Great Cornard parish council chairman Mick Cornish.

He served multiple tenures as parish council chairman over several decades, and notably spearheaded the creation of Great Cornard Country Park in 1986 – an achievement he described in 2017 as his most memorable moment on the council.

While part of the county council, Mr Cornish had led the Labour Group and heavily focused on education, having worked as a history teacher at Sudbury High School for Girls, and the head of history and French at Manningtree County Secondary School.

Great Cornard councillor Tony Bavington, who first met Mr Cornish in 1982, said he regarded him as a "political mentor".

In 2015, he accompanied Mr Cornish to the Eastern Region Labour Party conference, where he received a long service award, in recognition of more than 50 years of party membership, from current Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth.

"Mick was the person who recruited me into the Labour Party," Mr Bavington told the Free Press. "If it hadn't been for him and working with him, I probably wouldn't have done as much as I have as a councillor.

"I regarded him as kind of a mentor. I didn't agree with him on absolutely everything, but his view of how to do politics really shaped mine."

During his time with the Labour Party, Mr Cornish stood in five UK general elections in the 1960s and 1970s, and ran for European Parliament in 1989.

He moved with his wife Babs to Merseyside later that same year, after spells with the Fabian Society and running his own company, Anglia Advertising Agency.

While living there in the 1990s, Mr Cornish experienced local government from another perspective, as clerk to Knowsley Parish Council and secretary to the Merseyside Association of Local Councils (Malc), before returning to Great Cornard.

Throughout his life, he was an active trade unionist throughout his life, with involvement in the National Union of Teachers (NUT), as well as chairing the Sudbury and District branch of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) for many years.

He also had a prolific role in the Co-op, as a a member, director and vice-president of the Halstead Co-op in Essex between 1960 and 1975, and later as a director of the East of England Co-op.

"When he won his parish council seat back in 2011, a long-standing Tory opponent called Mick an 'old lefty'. He was pleased to be so described.

"I am shocked and saddened by his death. We may not see his like again."

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