Sad news yesterday that one of my best friends of recent years, Councillor Jim Moley, has passed away.
I'm told that he was found by local activists who turned up to his house to pick up some campaigning material, which, if true, would be fitting.
I first got to know Jim when we were both elected to Oxfordshire County Council in 1997, and even better following my selection as parliamentary candidate for Wantage and up to the 2001 election.
Jim had been elected as a Vale councillor much earlier, and then as a Town councillor, and by the time I knew him he had already achieved iconic status.
Jim was a colourful character, deeply involved in local activities including the Wantage Silver Band, the Choral Society and the Summer Arts Festival. He loved music and was a great believer in getting stuck in to community activity.
Jim was a tenacious and inteligent campaigner. He fought hard against closure of the community hospital and argued strongly for the comunity view of what should happen to local education provision. He was not afraid of challenging professionals or council officers if he thought they were ignoring the community, even when this made him unpopular in some circles.
Jim was a unique and eccentric human being. He didn't believe in locking his front door, and it was only recelty that he entered the computer age. His home was wonderful, part of the former vicarge next to the parish church in the centre of Wantage (and famous for its links with Betjeman) full to the brim with books, council paperwork and the odd pile of CDs, which he would clear away for branch campaign meetings.
Jim was also a loyal and hard-working campaigner. He was one of a small but dedicatedband of people who made my time as parliamentary candidate a joy. Rarely did two days pass without a long phone call about the latest controversy in town, and Jim helped me get on the right side of many an issue. He worked solidly hard delivering leaflets and knocking doors.
I enjoyed my regular visits to the town, my chats with Jim, and the many facilities the town as to offer. We still take the kids to the Vale and Downland Museum regularly (another of the projects Jim actively supported) and to the lovely informal Betjeman Park, just down the footpath from the church.
I suspect I will shed the occasional tear on future visits to the town.
Jim could be a hard person to like, he was an odd chap at times and could rub people up the wrong way. But he loved his town, his campaigning, and beating the opposition.
Politics in Wantage and Oxfordshire will be a chunk less interesting without Jim.
I for one will miss him dearly.