Downend mourns Graeme
Published on: 26 Aug 2016
TRIBUTES have been paid to Graeme Riley, a veteran parish councillor in Downend, who died last month at the age of 70.
Graeme, of Cleeve Gardens, devoted his life to youth and community work, in both his paid employment and his spare time.
Janet Biggin, who took over as chair of Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council from Graeme in January, said: “He will be very sadly missed both as a parish councillor and the committed person that he was, who did so much for and in our community.”
Graeme was born in Swansea in 1946 and was active in church, scouts and youth club activities from a young age, organising events and raising funds. He met his wife Stella when they were training as teachers in the 1960s. The couple worked in Bletchley and Gillingham, where Graeme taught geography and sociology in secondary schools.
They moved to Avon in 1974. Graeme was an area community officer, rising to principal officer for youth, community and libraries, working in the Kingswood area and then in Bath & North East Somerset.
Maggie Curtis, a colleague of Graeme's in the youth service, said: “He was very much loved by everyone who worked with him. He was so encouraging and supportive – and so funny! He liked young people and was very innovative in his work with them.”
Graeme took early retirement in 2001 and became a self-employed consultant in youth work, lecturing, tutoring, and advising universities on qualifications and strategy, as well as continuing his council and voluntary community work.
He was chairman of two youth charities, Chypps and the community theatre group Acta, and he and Stella organised barbecues and garden parties to raise funds for them.
David Lewis, from the Downend and Bromley Heath Community Plan Group, said Graeme had been fully involved from the outset in 2010 and had promoted the plan enthusiastically
“He chaired meetings, built up good contact with local organisations and businesses, took the lead at Community Plan events and maintained his genuine and lasting commitment to Downend and Bromley Heath, understanding its special characteristics as a community on the edge of Bristol.
"Sadly we will no longer meet with Graeme in the chair with his skill, courtesy, Welsh fluency and characteristic humour,” he said.
Graeme, who died on August 13, was a member of D&BHPC from its inception in 2003 and was chairman several times, from 2003-2006, 2011-2014 and again in 2015. He was previously a member of Mangotsfield Urban Parish Council.
Councillor Biggin said: “Graeme was very approachable and knowledgeable in all he did and we will miss his presence at our table, where he has given us all such practical help and valuable comments which will leave a difficult space to fill…”
As well as Stella, Graeme leaves a daughter, Angela, and son Anthony, and grandchildren Connor, 21, Courtney, 19, and twins Ella and Jack, 11.
His funeral service will take place on Tuesday August 30 at Westerleigh Crematorium, at 1.15pm, followed by a reception at the Kendleshire.