Long-standing community activist and Dodington Parish Councillor Cliff Phelps has died unexpectedly. He had been a parish councillor since 1999, and being in his mid 90s he must have been one of the oldest active councillors in the country.
He passed away very peacefully after a fun afternoon with his granddaughter, who had just left. His neighbour and friend was there with him at the end, and he just faded away without any warning.
Cliff was born in Bristol, and worked at Bristol Aeroplane Company before joining the RAF and serving as a pilot in combat in Syria and Lebannon in the early 1940s. When he was demobbed he joined what was then the Gloucestershire Constabulary, working in the Forest of Dean. Cliff came to live in the Chipping Sodbury district in 1957, and served in Chipping Sodbury for 18 years and became involved in many local activities.
Cliff was responsible for forming Chipping Sodbury’s first Youth Club, which was held in the Baptist Church Hall two nights a week. He also re-formed the Chipping Sodbury Football Club in 1963, and was responsible for forming the Sodbury Vale Musical Comedy Club. Cliff was a patron of the club as well as the Sodbury Players and the Court Players.
After retiring from the police force Cliff was appointed Animal Health Inspector for what is now South Gloucestershire, so he was well known in the rural areas as well as the town.
Cliff was also a school governor at Abbotswood Primary School, serving on several committees and helping in the classrooms, and he was a governor and crossing patrol supervisor at a school in Frampton Cotterell.
Cliff was an enthusiastic member of Dodington Parish Council, and sat on all the Council’s committees. A keen brass band fan, he was the Council’s representative on the Dodington Parish Band. He was also a member of the Joint Cycleway Group, where he brought disability concerns to the design of cycle tracks – he was a wheelchair user following a double leg amputation.
Cliff joined the Parish Council after his wife Kathleen died, and never let his disability get in the way of taking part in the community. In an interview in 2016 he said “I have always enjoyed helping people and being with people. I have always been associated with the community, I was never stuck in a factory but was always out and about, so when I was asked to join the parish council I jumped at it. I try to help and would much rather that than be stuck in being lonely. And I can’t be lonely with these people around me”
Long-term colleague and friend Cllr Paul Hulbert said “We shall miss him, his deep local knowledge and his great sense of humour. It was always a pleasure being at a meeting with Cliff. If he disagreed with something he wouldn’t be afraid to say so, but he would always be prepared to listen to the other side of an issue”
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This post was written by Paul Hulbert