Tributes paid after the death of popular Hucknall councillor Jim Blagden
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Coun Blagden (Ash Ind), nicknamed ‘Gentleman Jim’ died aged 74 after a battle with cancer.
He recently spearheaded the council’s response to Covid-19 and was assistant cabinet member for corporate communications and environmental improvements.
Jim lost his battle with cancer in the early hours of Sunday morning.
He leaves his childhood sweetheart and wife of 55 years Sheila, his beloved family and his residents of Hucknall.
Jim’s son Calvin, speaking on behalf of the family, said: “Dad was a wonderful father and grandfather.
"We are so sorry that he has lost his fight.
"He was the rock of our family and will be sorely missed by everyone.
"Dad was a principled man, someone who fought all his life for not just his family but for everybody in Hucknall.
" Dad was a man for the people of Hucknall and he worked so hard for them, whether that be the children at Spring Street School, people who he looked after when he was on ambulance duty or the people he represented as a councillor.
"He always felt that he had to earn the right to represent his neighbours in Hucknall.
"He never felt he had a divine right to be a councillor.
"He felt privileged to represent Hucknall and Hucknall will be a poorer place for dad’s passing.”
Jim was a former master bricklayer, a former first Aid instructor at St John’s Ambulance and a former caretaker at Spring Street School.
He was also a big Nottingham Forest fan – a season ticket holder – and in his spare time was a prolific artist painting dozens of watercolours from his Hucknall home.
He recently had the all-clear from leukaemia earlier this year but the cancer then returned.
Speaking earlier this year after getting the all-clear, Jim said, “When I received the leukaemia diagnosis, I had to think of my family and what they’d already gone through with the sad death of our grandson.
"I never told a single constituent I had cancer – they had their problems and it was my job to deal with their problems – not for me to burden them with mine.
"When I rang that bell, I rang it for Sheila – after all these years of marriage, we’re still like teenagers.
"I rang it for my family who had suffered enough from cancer issues, I rang it for my grandson Aeron, I rang it for every patient who is still going through the cancer journey and I rang it for the people of Hucknall.”
Coun Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), said: “Jim was an inspiration.
"When he told me he’d been diagnosed with cancer, his first thought was for Sheila, his family and for the residents of Hucknall.
"Jim had drive and determination and fought for the town he was proud to represent.
"During the Covid pandemic, it’s no exaggeration that his work saved lives.
"He fought and delivered a vaccination centre at Rolls Royce Leisure, hand sanitisers in council-run car parks and helped dozens of Hucknall business survive through the pandemic.
"My thoughts go out to Sheila and the family.
"He was fighter for Hucknall – until recently, he was battling to try and secure regeneration money for Hucknall for an extra swimming pool and other improvements at Hucknall Leisure Centre which will be complete in April and for more events in Hucknall like the food and drink festival, which was Jim’s idea.”
Hucknall opposition councillors have also paid their respects to Jim.
Coun Lauren Mitchell (Lab), who represents Hucknall South, said: “My deepest condolences to Jim’s family, friends and supporters he had in the community.
"Jim was always kind to me and a passionate advocate for Hucknall.”
Pat Ayres, chair of the Hucknall Branch of the Labour Party, said: “Hucknall Branch Labour Party is deeply saddened by the news of the death of Coun Jim Blagden.
"Jim had been a long-standing member and former district councillor for Labour.
"His work, commitment, and humour will be sorely missed.
“Hucknall Labour sends its heartfelt condolences to Jim's family, friends and colleagues.”
Coun Chris Baron (Con), who represents Hucknall West, said it was ‘a very sad day for the Blagdens and all who knew Jim’.
He continued: “I knew Jim for at least a couple of decades, and used to go occasionally with him to Nottingham Forest matches with one of his grandsons.
"Jim was brought up in the Meadows (as he regularly told me) and when he moved to Hucknall, could see that the communities needed to be changed for the better.
"Although we ended up being from different political parties, we disagreed with policy, but never made it personal, and accepted each other’s views.
"All the Conservative councillors from Hucknall send their thoughts to Shelia and their extended family – he will be sadly missed.”