Tributes to an ‘ambassador’

Tom Tait
Tom Tait

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Gainsborough town mayor and prominent businessman who has died aged 81.

Tom Tait was a popular and well-known face around the town, having served on the town council from its inception in 1992 until 2005, and ran Gainsborough Cycle Centre and Gainsborough Trophy Centre in Church Street.

He also had the privilege of wearing the mayoral chains from 1999-2000 and welcomed Prince Charles on his royal visit when he unveiled the Millennium Clock in Heaton Street.

“It was a proud moment for Tom as he had been instrumental in bringing Prince Charles to Gainsborough,” said close friend Trevor Halstead.

Mr Tait passed away at his home in Lea on Tuesday 3rd April after a struggle against ill health.

He leaves his wife Veronica, children Stephen and Susan and four grandchildren.

Trevor Halstead told the Standard of his sadness at the news, but also of fond memories of a ‘jolly gentleman’.

Mr Tait had owned the bike shop in Church Street, Gainsborough, until he became mayor in 1999, when Trevor took over and renamed it Church Street Cycles.

“Tom was a cycle trader in town for quite a number of years. In his heyday in the 1970s he was a BMX man and did a lot of work with young people,” said Trevor.

“As a younger man I believe he worked in the local power stations.”

“He had a very busy life being a businessman and a family man, and he was passionate about improving Gainsborough.”

Trevor said despite knowing Mr Tait for more than 20 years he was never aware of his political persuasion.

“He was always independent and neutral, and did a lot to better the town,” he said.

Mr Tait was originally from the north east of England. And fellow councillor and current town mayor Harry Clarke said he was very outspoken.

“Tom Tait had been an ambassador for Gainsborough for a long while,” said Coun Clarke.

“As a councillor he had Gainsborough at heart and it showed in what ever he did.”

Coun Clarke said Mr Tait had used his own money to build a BMX track in the 1970s for youngsters to use.

And during his time in the trophy shop he would often offer discounts to local groups, which Coun Clarke said represented his ‘community spirit’.

“Tom was a friend to many and I think he was very well liked by people in the town,” said Coun Clarke.

“Although he was passionate and outspoken, and some councillors didn’t like the fact he would speak his mind.”

“He went all over the country and always brought back suggestions to the council about how things were done elsewhere.”

In his spare time Mr Tait was a fan of country and western music, organising various concerts at Trinity Arts Centre and All Saints’ Parish Church.

He also loved to keep his hands busy with gardening and woodcraft.

The funeral service will be at All Saints’ Parish Church on Monday 16th April at 10.30am, followed by committal at Woodlands Crematorium in Scunthorpe.

Mr Tait’s family have asked for family flowers only. Donations can be made to Marie Curie Cancer Care and St Barnabas Hospice via Cliff Bradley & Sons funeral directors.