John Brooks, former businessman and Banbury's first black Town Mayor, has died.

John Brooks, a Conservative town councillor who became Banbury's first black Town Mayor, died on Saturday, aged 84.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 4:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 5:59 pm
Cllr John Brooks, Banbury Town Mayor 2005 - 06, who died at the weekend
Cllr John Brooks, Banbury Town Mayor 2005 - 06, who died at the weekend

Mr Brooks and his wife Audrey ran Brooklands Nursing Home in Banbury for many years.

Born and raised in Anguilla, Mr Brooks came to the UK in 1955 and joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and served with distinction, reaching the rank of Sergeant Major and being awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM).

After leaving the Army, together with Mrs Brooks - a qualified nurse - he ran the Brooklands Nursing Home in Banbury, which was one of the earlier private nursing homes in the town.

John Brooks, after retirement in Anguilla, on publication of his memoir

Mr Brooks wrote a memoir called Finding My Way in a Strange Land in 2012 in which he described Britain as a 'wonderful country'. Still available on Amazon, it records his early life in the West Indies and tells the story of determination, development and success as he responded to the challenges of finding a home in a foreign land.

He was a magistrate on the north Oxfordshire bench from 1986 - 2005 and was a keen advocate of financial investment and early education to convince children that drugs were 'no good'.

“John was outstanding at everything he did”, said Sir Tony Baldry, High Steward of Banbury and former Member of Parliament.

“He ran his nursing home in a very caring way and he was a conscientious and committed councillor and served with distinction as Banbury Town Mayor”.

Mr Brooks died in his native country after a short illness.

A Banbury Town Council spokesman said Mr Brooks was a town councillor from 2000 - 2008. He served on the General Services Committee, the Planning Committee and the Appeals Panel. Mr Brooks was the council’s representative at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the Civic Society and Banbury Old People’s Club and was a member of the Banbury Traffic Advisory Committee. He also served on Cherwell Community Planning Partnership.

"Mr Brooks had an action-packed life. He began endurance walking in 1974 and began with a 75-mile trek over 18 hours for the NSPCC. He went on to raise more than £40,000 for good causes including Save the Children. He was in the Guinness Book of Records for walking the longest distance in the shortest time," the spokesman said.

Leader of Banbury Town Council Kieron Mallon said: “I have very fond memories of John. He was always energetic and enthusiastic.

“He spent much of his later life back in Anguilla but was a frequent visitor to Banbury and we always had a lot to talk about.

“He loved England but always remembered his humble beginnings in the West Indies.

“He came here as a carpenter, but achieved so much more because of his energy, determination and commitment. He was an example to us all."