Tribute paid to former March mayor Barry Wales
The friend of a former March mayor who held the chain of office twice has paid tribute to him.
Dr Allan J Whyte described Barry Wales, who has recently died, as a ‘Man of March’ who dedicated much of his life to the benefit of the people of the town.
He said: “At the bottom of my road there is a pub called the Men of March. I have never been inside it but I have always thought about the people who drink there. Are they March people through and through? A secret society or an elite group like those who belong to MENZA. Barry John Wales was certainly a man of March. He was born in March and dedicated much of his life to the benefit of the people of March.”
“A teacher of science and sports at the George Campbell School Whittlesea he was active in the NUT and was dedicated to the labour movement all his life. He was elected the Labour party Fenland District councillor and served as the Mayor of March from 1999-2000. That honour was swapped between parties even though there was a Conservative majority. This achievement was even more outstanding when you consider that Barry was elected for a second term consecutively from 2000-2001.
“Whilst still a teacher Barry trained as a psychotherapist at Cambridge and worked with prisoners at Whitemoor Prison and later with people addicted to alcohol for Drink Sense.
“As mayor, he established a scheme to alleviate the growing problem of homeless young people in March sleeping rough. He helped to secure funding for the youth club ‘Young People March’ and with Peter Skoulding he helped to secure the funds to purchase March Town Hall.
“As a Justice of the Peace in March in the 1980s Barry was a prime mover in the ‘Alternatives in Fenland’ scheme, a government initiative to find alternative methods to incarceration for youngsters coming into contact with the judiciary. Barry was involved in recruiting and training volunteers for the scheme with the help of a Fenland social worker John Bugg (whose passionate campaigning on other matters earned him a full-page obituary in the Guardian).
“Barry was a cricket coach for the March Cricket Club and took a party of young people on a cricket tour to Africa. He was also a member of the March Town Rugby Club and the March Lions. Barry was passionate about sports and could often be found on the golf course or teasing the ball over the net in a game of tennis but his real love was for cricket.
“Barry also loved nature was keen bird watcher and enjoyed playing bridge.”
Dr Whyte concluded: “I spent many a fascinating hour listening to Barry who took a deep interest in politics both local, national and international. He was a humble man and never boasted of his achievements.
“He lived for many years in South Africa with his South African-born wife Audrey and was a committed anti-partied campaigner. Barry was very proud of his three children Stephan, Richard and Duncan.
“I will always treasure those moments that I spent in Barry’s company. The town of March has lost a wonderful servant and dear friend.”