A FORMER chief executive of Christchurch Council, a climate change ‘trailblazer’ and a beloved father has passed away.

Colin Harrison Dewsnap was born on June 15, 1935, in Cheshire. He attended Hyde Grammar School where he lost at least six months of schooling aged 13 due to a serious knee injury. After leaving school at 15, Colin started to work at the Town Hall as a junior clerk.

“He devoted his entire life to serving others and he was passionate about world poverty, human rights and trying to help those less fortunate than himself,” says Colin’s daughter Helen, who remembers her father as her “inspiration”.

After moving to Lancashire as a senior accountancy assistant in 1958, Colin met his future wife Marilyn who was impressed by Colin’s expertise as a ballroom dancing teacher.

Colin and Marilyn were married in 1960 and had their first child, Carole, in 1962. After a further move to Bingley in Yorkshire, the couple welcomed Helen in 1966.

Having already worked for six different local authorities, Colin and his family moved to start a new life in Christchurch on July 30, 1966 (the same day England won the World Cup).

Bournemouth Echo: Former Chief Executive of Christchurch Town Council, Colin Dewsnap

Colin was appointed Deputy Borough Treasurer of Christchurch Borough Council. He was subsequently promoted to Borough Treasurer, then in 1977 he was appointed Chief Executive and Town Clerk of the Borough of Christchurch, a position he held until he retired in 1995.

Despite calling it a day, Colin never really retired.

A god-daughter of Colin’s wrote: “Uncle Colin was a trailblazer, an environmentalist before anyone else years ago and carried out such wonderful charitable work across the years. Such an amazing man.”

This refers to the tireless work that Colin committed himself to regarding the impact of climate change, long before it was in the public consciousness. His daughter Helen said: “We were incredibly proud of dad's work on the environment over the last 30 years, promoting the Earth Charter and his charity work.

“Dad used to remind me that his passion for the environment started in 1992 when the Earth Summit took place in Rio de Janeiro when mum and dad were visiting me as I was living there.

“This Summit changed Dad's life forever. It took him in a new direction, and he spent the next 30 years of his life trying to raise awareness of climate change. He worked tirelessly, full time, all day, every day.”

Bournemouth Echo: Colin Dewsnap and Christchurch mayor Josephine Spencer with children from Highcliffe St Mark Primary launching the new environmentally-friendly Christchurch shopping bags at the Regent CentreColin Dewsnap and Christchurch mayor Josephine Spencer with children from Highcliffe St Mark Primary launching the new environmentally-friendly Christchurch shopping bags at the Regent Centre

He was a founder member of the Dorset Climate Change Coalition which brought together organisations across the county pledging to monitor and reduce our carbon footprint. He was dedicated to taking practical action, one example being his regular attendance of the Christchurch Energy Advice Centre providing guidance on energy saving measures that could be implemented in households.

In 2007, Colin joined the board of trustees of Sustainable Dorset where he contributed his experience as a former Council Chief Executive to draw on his understanding of public organisations and their operation. Colin and Marilyn also ran the Priory Sunday school in Christchurch for many years.

A lifelong dog lover, Helen recalled: “The only time I ever saw dad cry when I was younger was when our family dog Penny passed away.”

As a patron of numerous charities, he took multiple trips to Albania to deliver shoeboxes to underprivileged children. Colin received two Rotary Awards which included a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001, he became District Governor of Rotary International.

Regarding his work in Albania, former colleague Ann Norris recalled: “I first met Colin in 1995 when I was living and working in Librazhd, Albania, trying to improve the lives of people with disabilities by supporting a local NGO MEDPAK. One day I was told there had been an English lorry bringing shoe box presents for the children. I made contact with Colin and this was the beginning of a long and successful friendship.

“On Christmas Eve 2020, Colin and I were invited to an award ceremony (due to Covid this took place over zoom) to celebrate 25 years of service to MEDPAK and Librazhd by its two Honorary Citizens (Colin and myself). There were some 50 people taking part and most of them either knew Colin or had heard of him.

“The current Mayor of Librazhd and, more impressively, the MP for the area was present. He was a local Librazhd lad and was very much aware of what has been done for the area. He also remembered receiving a shoe box many years ago.”

Refusing a quiet retirement, Colin continued to acquire qualifications in his retirement by achieving an Advanced Diploma in Environmental Management.

In a final reflection, Colin’s daughter Helen said: “He was quite simply the best dad and grandad in the world. He didn't waste a single minute of his 86 years and, together with mum, has always been the bedrock of our family.

“I was with my dad 24 hours a day for the last 10 weeks of his life and he never complained once, even when he was in a lot of pain – he was more concerned about us all around him and how we were coping.

“We will miss you so much dad. We know everything you did was for the benefit of future generations, and we will try to play our part in ensuring this legacy continues.”

Colin died on Friday, October 1, 2021, aged 86.

His funeral was held on Thursday, October 14,at the Hinton Park Woodland Burial Ground.

Have you recently lost a loved one? Email andrew.goldman@newsquest.co.uk if you want to celebrate their life with the community.