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Dr Ian Thwaites, Keep Southwater Green’s founder and chairman, passed away peacefully on 30th September 2015, after losing his battle with prostate cancer. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at St. Mary’s Church, The Causeway, Horsham, on Monday 23rd November, from 2pm, with a reception afterwards at Horsham Cricket Club.

Ian established KSG in 2010, and remained our leader until the beginning of this year. Although he decided to take a back seat then, in order to concentrate on his health issues, he continued to be involved, scrutinising documents, attending our meetings, and dispensing wisdom and humour in equal measure.

Ian was held in high esteem by everyone who knew him. He was a man of integrity, great charm and humility; the epitome of an English gentleman. He did far more for our community than most are aware of, working tirelessly and determinedly to battle against the tide of housebuilding that threatens to swamp our village. Ian’s passion for, and unswerving commitment to, protecting Southwater and its countryside for the benefit of future generations means we are all the poorer for his passing. As a community group, we are indebted to him. As individuals, we each feel it is a great privilege to have known such a genuinely lovely man.

Tribute to Ian published in the West Sussex County Times

He will be greatly missed as a loving husband, father and grandfather; as a doctor in Horsham for over 40 years; as a member of Horsham Cricket Club; and as a founding member and chairman of Keep Southwater Green.

Ian Thwaites was born in Brighton in 1943, the youngest of four children and the son of local General Practitioner, Dr Guy Thwaites.

He became a man of many talents. He was a fine cricketer, playing several seasons for Sussex Second XI and Cambridge University, winning a Blue in 1964. He went on to represent Horsham Cricket Club for many years, most notably for the ‘Thursday XI’.

Having trained at Cambridge and St Thomas’ Hospital, he was a dedicated, caring and thoughtful doctor.

Originally attracted to Horsham by the excellence of its cricket club, he joined Horsham’s Orchard Surgery in 1970, after a spell as a flying doctor in Africa. He worked in the practice until 1990, when he left to practise as an independent musculoskeletal and sports physician from his home in Southwater.

There he manipulated, injected, acupunctured and jovially encouraged many of West Sussex’s injured and aching population back to an active life.

He had a long-standing passion for good food and wine, enjoyed in the company of family and friends.

He was an excellent chef, a talent which lead him to write culinary articles for a medical magazine for many years, and he was runner-up in a Sunday Times amateur chef of Great Britain competition (a forerunner of ‘Master Chef’) in 1983.

Complementing his love of good food was his enthusiasm for producing his own ingredients and he cultivated an extraordinary array of produce (from potatoes to pigs) in a highly ordered garden.

His work, his sport, and his garden combined to produce a deep connection with the area and its communities. He viewed the poorly considered proposals for housing development in Southwater as a direct threat to all that was good and worth preserving in the area.

Through the formation and chairmanship of the pressure group Keep Southwater Green he tirelessly fought the district council’s and housing developers’ plans to build on Southwater’s green fields.

His family have received many touching tributes to his life over the last two weeks.

There are three words that are common to nearly all of them: he was ‘gentle’, ‘kind’ and ‘thoughtful’. But to his children and grandchildren (and possibly many others) he was also an inspiration. He approached life with enormous energy, high intelligence, and a healthy disregard for received wisdom.

He cared little for outward appearance (to the occasional frustration of his wife, Linda); what mattered were character, integrity, loyalty and living a full and loving life.

His family and friends will likely remember him in two guises. First, as the master batsman, nonchalantly clipping cricket balls off his legs over the Horsham Cricket Club pavilion; and second, emerging from his beloved vegetable garden in wellington boots with an old jumper eccentrically tucked into his muddy trousers, eagerly anticipating a glass of good claret.

To read the full piece on the West Sussex County Times’ website click here.

Tributes from the community

“We were so very sorry to hear of Ian’s passing. His passion and commitment to preserving the village of Southwater as a great place to live are unrivalled. Ian led Keep Southwater Green by example. He researched his facts in depth and demanded answers, often gaining face to face meetings with those seeking to destroy what we all hold so dear. Everyone he met, whether friend or foe, held the utmost respect for him as he was that rare breed of man – a man of integrity. The people of Southwater were more than lucky to have Ian fighting for them in his retirement as well as caring for them as their doctor for so many years. Ian was held in such high regard by all those who knew him. We were privileged to call Ian our friend.  He touched our lives in such a positive way. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Linda and all the family.”

Polly and Mick Purton

“I am very very sorry to learn of this sad news. Ian was one of the friendliest and polite person that I ever met. I enjoyed working with him when I used to send the KSG news out by email. RIP Ian, and hope that when it is my time to leave this world, we meet up again.”

Bill Smith

“I am very saddened to hear this news. Ian devoted his whole life to serve others and was willing to step up when it mattered. If we could all take but a little of his passion and determination then there is nothing that the community of Southwater couldn’t achieve. May he rest in peace.”

Rowan Lil

“Wendy and I were devastated to hear about Ian. Despite only having known him for around a year I’d come to respect and admire him like few people I’d ever met before. He was such a consummate, selfless, kind, yet humble person that did more for this community than anyone truly realises. He had limitless energy and such astuteness for protecting Southwater and its cherished countryside. We are all indebted to him for this.

You know how every now and then you come across people with OBEs and MBEs. Well, Ian has been the only person I’ve ever met where straight away I felt this is the sort of role-model of a person that deserves recognition. I regret not having taken the opportunity to have pursued this and to have thanked him for his noble efforts.”

Robert Steele

“Ian was the epitome of an English gentleman: decent, principled, public spirited. He cared deeply for his community and laboured to protect it. His charm, humour and intelligence touched every encounter. We are all the poorer for his passing. He was the modest champion in our midst.”

Judith Nesbitt and Guy Claxton

“Ian was a person of great tact and determination, a combination that is rare in this world. He applied these qualities admirably to the preservation of our countryside, over which he held such strong and passionate views. He will be very much missed for his relaxed humour as well as his incredible ability as KSG’s chairman to combine everyone’s efforts into a coherent whole to the benefit of the Southwater community.”

Richard Page

“Really sad news. I personally very much appreciated everything he did for KSG, and long may his legacy of this continue. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

Michelle Gandy

“Thoughts are with his family and friends and thanks for all he has done for the village. His work will continue.”

Sarah Honey

“What an inspiring man who will be much missed by not only his family but the wider community of Southwater. May you rest in peace.”

Jacqui Elsden

“Very sad news indeed. Much sympathy to his family, he was such an asset to the Southwater community. We are very grateful for the efforts he put in on our behalf.”

Llynor Rathbone

“Very sad news. A lovely person with much integrity. Sending healing thoughts to all his friends and family.”

Shirley Blanch

“John and I would like to send our deepest sympathy to Mrs Thwaites and her family. Dr Thwaites worked so hard to protect our green fields, and we had the greatest respect and admiration for him. He will be greatly missed and not forgotten.”

Sue Priestley

If you would like to pay tribute to Ian by having your comments published here, please email your words to us via the Contact page.