Tribute to Oliver Statham

  |  Published: Nov 10th 2015
Oliver Statham hiking

Thirty three years ago we became neighbours and friends of Anne and Oliver, and it was Oliver who persuaded me to join the committee of The Wendover Society.    

During the 16 years we served together, many hours were spent preparing for 3 important Public Enquiries into the future development of Wendover. By the time of the second Enquiry, rules had changed and the Society was allowed to brief the QC itself, which is when the hard work really began. Four of us including Oliver, plus the Chairman of the Parish Council, met evening after evening to prepare our case – Bordeaux briefings, I think we called them!!

Until we invested in a Society laptop, I would write up the report and dash round to Oliver who was such a wizard at spotting improvements in clarity. It was seldom that a document came back without alteration. If it did, I gave myself an A*!!! A major triumph was to get the Green Belt line fixed at the Canal rather than the stream which gave Oliver enormous satisfaction given his love of the footpaths with which he was so familiar.
Several years later, almost the same team presented its case against the overdevelopment of the Princess Mary Hospital site – again with Oliver acting as arbiter on facts presented as evidence. Being an acknowledged stickler for detail, Oliver would ask for yet another rewrite. We heaved a sigh but did it anyway. The major triumph this time was to get the housing numbers reduced from 600 to 400 – a victory, especially for Oliver who always maintained that homes should be appropriate to their setting.


We have Oliver and Anne to thank for arranging many interesting and enjoyable Society walks around the area, discovering unknown paths and vistas. The numerous presentations given by the Society and other other organisations would not have happened without Oliver’s input – his trusty projector and screen utilised expertly and frequently - truly the Mr Powerpoint of the Memorial Hall.


Farewell my friend - with gratitude for all you did for Wendover and for being a neighbour without compare - skilful, generous and immensely kind. 

Elizabeth Richards

The Wendover Society

 

I worked with Oliver for just over 5 years but I knew of Anne and Oliver for much longer than that. After I had been elected to the Parish Council I arranged to introduce myself to all my co-councillors. One of the first visits that I made was to see Anne and Oliver. We sat in the kitchen where Oliver told me that he probably would not be able to help all that much as he was quite an ill man and had multiple medical conditions. That was my first introduction to the honesty of the man.
How wrong Oliver was! He became an active member of Wendover Parish Council and was Chair of the Planning committee until he decided to resign a short time ago due to ill health. He cared passionately about Wendover, its surrounds and its people. Invariably he would be at meetings where anything to do with Planning, Parking and the beauty of Wendover was concerned.


As a co-councillor one particular thing that I liked about Oliver was his behaviour in meetings. If there was a key question to be asked he would ask it – in his loud booming voice. I had no problem in identifying who was speaking. Oliver’s style was his own and he would often cut out formality to get to the bottom of something Oliver was a very kind person and was never afraid to admit when he was wrong. In 2012 when the Queen’s Jubilee and Olympics were being celebrated in Wendover, Oliver was reluctant to accept that the planned event might be a success and deserve some funding. After the Wendover Celebrates event had taken place and had successfully exceeded all expectations, Oliver was the first person to approach me, having seen thousands of people enjoying themselves, to congratulate me and the team on a successful event and admit that he had been wrong. That very night his verbal comments were followed up by an email.

Personally I will miss Oliver who only a short time ago became one of my friends. He was straight talking, quick witted and an engineer – three excellent qualities to be found in the man. On behalf of Wendover PC and the people we represent I would like to thank Oliver for all that he did for Wendover.

Robert Duggan

Chair of Wendover Parish Council

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