Tribute: Barrie Searle

Barrie actually came from Yorkshire and from a military family – his father was in the Indian army. On leaving school he joined H.M. forces with a short term Commission in the Royal Marines. He was at Walmer, Kent on D-Day, and went on D-Day 2. He described it as “Pretty tough work in a flat bottomed landing craft, in a rough swell of sea, after two days of waiting.” He must have been 19. He would say nothing more about the war.

He left the Royal Marines at the end of the war, but while training as an Accountant he was offered a job with Unilever. He worked for them in Nigeria from 1948 to 1964 setting up factories and climbing the ladder. He met Phyllis, his wife, in Lagos in 1960 and she travelled extensively with him. He was once co-opted as a policeman in the Kano riots. He met the rebels but, as ever, he negotiated. He opened and managed factories in Nigeria while being ever mindful of the local politics.

He played hockey for Nigeria and was once considered for the Olympic team but could not take the time off. In 1965 he moved to Fiji for four and a half years, again setting up factories, and also in Malta. After he returned to the UK he visited Ghana, Mauritius, China and India as a trouble-shooter.

Barrie and Phyllis settled in Wendover in 1976 and Barrie took a post with Rothmans. In 1979 Rothmans lent him to Bucks County Council for two years. In 1983 Barrie finally retired from Rothmans. He was an Aylesbury Vale District Councillor from 1983 until 2003 and received the particular distinction of being made an Honorary Alderman. He was involved in many local matters: the Florence Nightingale Hospice fund, Treasurer for Abbeyfield, chaired the Multiple Sclerosis unit at Halton, worked for Age Concern amongst others, was a Governor of John Colet School.

This makes Barrie seem a remote official committee man, but he was not at all like that. Although he was always a military man, impeccably dressed, and always polite he had a dry sense of humour. He greatly enjoyed playing golf at Ellesborough Golf Club where he could relax and not be asked to organise anything.

Barrie was always a stickler for proper procedures, but he cared for people. He demanded very strongly that affordable housing was followed up in Wendover, and unbeknown to others he helped many people to find accommodation.

We extend our sympathies to his wife Phyllis, who gave him much support in his fight for life, and we also extend our sympathy to his family in celebrating the life of this remarkable man of many talents. ..John Owen