PERCY Miles, the only person to have been Mayor of Royal Wootton Bassett three times, has died at the age of 82.
Percy and his wife Sally, who were married in 1955, contributed much to the life of the local community. He was a town councillor for many years and was Mayor of the town in 1986, 2001 and 2006.
As the former, long-serving chairman of the Memorial Hall committee, Percy strove tirelessly to maintain and improve the town’s main public hall.
He was Mayor in 2001 when Royal Wootton Bassett’s official twinning with Blain was formalised at ceremonies and celebrations locally, a year after the initial formalities in Blain.
Percy joined enthusiastically in the fun of the occasion and accepted the accolade Ambassador for Muscadet (the wine from the Blain region). Instead of the usual civic service he organised an impressive open air Songs of Praise, with many visiting dignitaries, band and choir, in the town centre.
As a staunch member of the Royal British Legion, and poppy appeal organiser for many years, he instigated a gathering of residents at the War Memorial, at the start of the repatriations. As these progressed, that original small group grew to a vast crowd whose witness led to the town being honoured with its Royal title.
Current Mayor of Royal Wootton Bassett, Councillor Linda Frost, paid tribute to Percy. She said: “Percy’s remarkable achievement was being Mayor three times during his years on the Town Council, the only councillor to do so.
“A most distinguished and respected man who dedicated tirelessly to help those in need, exemplified in 2006 in raising funds for his chosen charity, Make a Wish Foundation, whose aim was to grant the wishes of children and young people aged three to 17 living with life-threatening illness.”
Percy was born at Broad Town in 1931, and moved to Royal Wootton Bassett when he was six, to a house on the Dunnington estate. After leaving the National School (now the Civic Centre), Percy worked for the Gas Board, and was the last person to look after Royal Wootton Bassett’s gas street lighting.
He enlisted in the Royal Ordnance Corps in 1949 and attained the rank of company Sgt Major before he returned to civilian life in 1971. He worked for the old Swindon Council, owned an off-licence briefly and was delighted to buy his former childhood home in Bassett. He served for over a decade as Homelessness Officer for Thamesdown Borough Council, and retired at 65.
He and his wife, who first met when they were serving in the army, have a son, two daughters, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
His funeral, a thanksgiving for his life, will take place next Tuesday, March 11, at Kingsdown Crematorium, at 10.30am. Memorial donations will be appreciated for the Poppy Appeal.