Town stalwart Maurice Skilton remembered at civic service

The Mayor of Eastbourne Cllr Carolyn Heaps and Deputy Mayor Cllr Mike Thopmson leads the congregation as The Rev'd Canon Bob Butler enters.
The Mayor of Eastbourne Cllr Carolyn Heaps and Deputy Mayor Cllr Mike Thopmson leads the congregation as The Rev'd Canon Bob Butler enters.

EASTBOURNE paid a fond farewell last week to popular politician and town stalwart Maurice Skilton.

Maurice died in Firwood House in Eastbourne in May aged 91 after a long and distinguished career in local politics and a civic service was held at St Mary’s Church in Old Town on Tuesday to pay tribute to his achievements.

Among the guests were past and present councillors from Eastbourne Borough and East Sussex County Councils, Maurice’s family, Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and representatives from groups Maurice, a staunch Liberal Democrat and Old Town councillor, had worked with over the years.

The service was conducted by Canon Bob Butler, a family friend of the Skilton family, who said Maurice was always laughing and smiling.

Maurice was born and bred in Eastbourne’s Old Town and trained as a tailor before serving with the Territorial Army in Africa.

He was involved in the Normandy Landings and also went through Belgium and Germany helping liberate concentration camps.

Back in England Maurice married Irene and then moved to Meads, where Maurice opened up a tailors and brought up his family.

One of his customers was airline owner Freddie Laker and he also made habits for nuns. He later worked at the Dental Estimates Board until his retirement but politics was always his great love.

He was a borough and county councillor, served as mayor and deputy mayor of the town and was a passionate campaigner for Eastbourne and its residents.

Among those paying tribute to Maurice at the service was one of his closest friends and fellow politician Beryl Healy, who described him as a loyal and larger than life character.

“He was an innovator who actually did things and when charities or organisations were under threat, he would always be at the forefront to save them,” said Mrs Healy.

Eastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt also paid tribute to Maurice, who he met in 1973, along with MP Stephen Lloyd who said he had inspired a whole generation of people to get involved in politics.

Readings were read by Councillor Alan Shuttleworth and Eastbourne mayor Carolyn Heaps.

More than 150 people attended the service, held at the parish church, where Maurice was a choirboy.