Following on from the recent comment by Clive Dellow, on the page Benfleet Urban District Council – The Early Days, I too had the privilege of working in Ted FitzGerald’s department at Rayleigh during the period 1962 to 1964 as a young 22 year old Committee Clerk, before moving on to Canvey Island U.D.C. and then to Castle Point District Council at the time of the major local government re-organisation in 1974.
As I had to regularly attend evening meetings of the Council and its committees and because there was insufficient time for me to get home to Langdon Hills and back again to Rayleigh for these meetings, Ted very kindly invited me, on a few occasions, to have tea or dinner with him and his charming wife, Ida. Ted was a real ‘gentleman’ in every sense of the word and someone who had a real sense of ‘fair play’. Thanks to his leadership, there was quite a family atmosphere within the department and I began to realise how fortunate I was to have become part of it.
As head of the department, Ted always put his trust in his staff and I well remember, on the occasion of the Parliament Election for the South East Essex Constituency in 1964, when he was appointed Returning Officer, that he made me responsible for all staff appointments and for the detailed arrangements for the Counting of the Votes at the Sweyne School.
Although my time at Rayleigh U.D.C. was relatively short, I had the pleasure to meet Ted on a number of occasions after that, at various inter-authority meetings, civic functions, etc. Wherever he went, he commanded total respect from everyone that he came into contact with.
This undated photograph (taken by Jackson’s Photo Service, Canvey Island, probably in the early 1960s) shows Ted and various other civic leaders at an informal gathering at a local venue on Canvey Island. Ted can be seen on the extreme left and Councillor Trippier on the far right (representing Rayleigh); Dan Grudgings and, I believe, Councillor Murray (representing Benfleet) on the right-hand side of the table; and John Rumble and Councillor George Prince (representing Canvey Island) at the other end of the table. I am unable to identify the gentleman sitting next to Ted FitzGerald, wearing spectacles and holding a pipe. Perhaps someone viewing this page will be able to put a name to this person?
I loved reading Ted’s recollections of his earlier career in local government, much of which was all new to me, but it certainly brought back many memories of those pre-reorganisation days in local government. It is sad to think that those young people beginning a career in public service these days will not be able to enjoy the same experience of truly ’Local’ government.