Tributes Paid To ‘Proud Scillonian’ Mike Hicks

Mike Hicks (October 29th 1934 – March 29th 2013)

Mike Hicks (October 29th 1934 – March 29th 2013)

Tributes are being paid to the chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, Mike Hicks, who died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday night at St Mary’s hospital.

He’d been flown back home to Scilly the day before, from Treliske hospital in Truro. Councillor Hicks was 78.

His Council colleague, vice chairman Amanda Martin, says there is the “feeling of an end of a chapter,” as such a notable Scillonian passes away. He should be remembered as a “proud Scillonian and a good family man,” she said.

Mike was passionate about the islands and was a Scillonian through and through. He once said that records of his family, who hailed from St Agnes, could be traced back to 1703.

His mother was a Pender and he married his childhood sweetheart from school, Jocelyn, a Trenear.

Mike loved the waters around our islands. Friend John Nicholls says that, like his father, Mike was a keen and strong swimmer. He was also an experienced diver and learned his underwater skills with the finder of the Colossus wreck, Roland Morris, in the 1970s.

In his 1973 book, Roland described Mike as, “steeped in the ways of the sea and of the beautiful islands in which they are so happily marooned.”

His connection with the sea went further. Mike was a skilled boat builder, a shipwright carpenter, having been trained by his uncle, Sam Ellis.

After national service in the army, he returned to St Mary’s to work with his father Gee on year-round boating from 1956. They had the contract to service the Bishop Rock lighthouse and took on the postal deliveries between the islands.

Mike was a key player in the set up of the St Mary’s Boatmen’s Association in 1958. He later joined the Steamship Company board and served as its chairman.

Mike viewed transport and travel links to Scilly as vital. Right up to his death he was working with counterparts in Cornwall to secure funding to improve St Mary’s and Penzance quays.

His friend for over 70 years, John Nicholls feels that one of Mike’s proudest moments was escorting the Queen around St Mary’s during her jubilee visit last year. 45 years earlier, his job was keeping a suitable distance from her majesty as he ferried the press around on his boat, during a visit by the royal couple to Tresco.

Mike was first elected to Council in May 1985 and chaired several major committees. Councillor Dudley Mumford says Mike had stature and respect in the community. “A light has gone out with his passing and we shall be the poorer for his loss,” he said.

Mike served as chairman first from 1996 to 1997 and again from 2010 until he passed away.

For the last two years he presided over one of the most difficult times in Scilly’s political history. He had said he intended to stand for Council and for the chairmanship again.

John Nicholls says Scilly was at the heart of everything he did and he hopes that Mike’s contribution will somehow be ‘rewarded’ by the Queen. He doesn’t feel that his friend has really been recognised for his work.

Mike was passionate about policing, having spent years representing Scilly on the Police Authority, which Councillor Martin says was very dear to him

Ken Wilkins served as Police Inspector in St Ives and says Mike always wanted to know what was really happening on the front line, away from the corridors of politics and power. He had excellent judgement and was prepared to use it, even it meant challenging the powers that be.

Scilly’s Police Sergeant Colin Taylor said his team remember him as a hugely respected figure who was a staunch allay of our policing efforts.

There’ll be a tribute programme to Mike Hicks on Friday 5th April at 12noon on Radio Scilly.

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