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Death of Former Mayor Richard Billington Reported by his Group Leader

Published on: 20 May, 2022
Updated on: 24 May, 2022

Richard Billington when he was Guildford’s Mayor

The death of Cllr Richard Billington was announced this morning. He had been suffering from a brain tumour.

Paul Spooner the leader of the Conservative group at GBC said: “The passing of Cllr Richard Billington early this morning is deeply saddening to the Conservative Group at Guildford Borough Council.

“Richard was quite simply a great man who was popular across the council and the wider community. Richard is now at peace and our thoughts are for Richard’s lovely wife Lynda, his wider family and Richard’s many friends.

“On a personal level I have lost a great friend and will miss him deeply. RIP Richard.”

Richard Billington as many will remember him always with a ready smile.

Council leader Joss Bigmore said: “Like many others I will truly miss Cllr Billington. He was well respected and liked across the whole council and served Guildford in exemplary fashion. It is a sad day.”

Richard Billington became a Conservative borough councillor for Tillingbourne in 2011 following his move from Croydon to Gomshall.

He had been a councillor in Croydon and was quickly taken on to the Executive at GBC under Stephen Mansbridge as the Lead Councillor for Community Safety and Health. He remained on the Executive until May 2018, with his lead councillor portfolio responsibilities changing in 2015 to Rural Economy, Countryside, Parks, and Leisure.

Borough flag at half-mast out of respect for Cllr Richard Billington.

He served an unusual two-year term as Mayor of Guildford from May 2019 because of the pandemic and it was during his second year that his brain tumour was first diagnosed.

Cllr Billington served on the Planning Committee from 2011 to 2019, the Licensing Committee from 2011 to 2014, and was chairman of the Corporate Governance & Standards Committee in 2018-19.

In addition, he served as the council’s representative on the following outside bodies:

  • Surrey Hills AONB Partnership from 2011 to 2019
  • Surrey County Playing Fields Association from 2015 to 2019
  • Sport Guildford from 2016 to 2019
  • Surrey Countryside and Rural Enterprise Forum from 2017 to 2019
  • Surrey County Agricultural Society from 2017 to 2018

Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson said: “I am extremely saddened to learn of the death of my kind and dedicated colleague councillor Richard Billington.

“Richard was liked by everyone and espoused an overwhelming selflessness; in his working life, in his public service and particular as Guildford’s Covid Mayor.

“It was typical of Richard that his mayoral time was spent fundraising for health causes in the community as well as putting the spotlight away from himself and onto all the people who carry out Guildford’s voluntary work – and continued to do so during the worst days of the pandemic.

Richard, as mayor, was keen to set an example and sent this photo in of him receiving a Covid jab.

“He was the best of what local councillors can be and a very many of us will miss him hugely. My thoughts are with Lynda and their family at this time but I know they will be immensely proud of everything Richard was and everything he achieved.”

MP for Mole Valley Sir Paul Beresford said: “The loss of Richard Billington, Tillingbourne local councillor will be deeply felt.

“He had been steeped in local government for decades. Initially, he was a councillor for the Fairfield ward in Croydon and a governor of a busy local school.

“He kept very active as a local councillor for 22 years, latterly at Guildford Council – two as mayor.

“Richard was tall and able to stand out as he could never be called a “shrinking violet”, hence was always very influential.

“Although a Conservative councillor he always saw his role as serving his constituents first. Tillingbourne and Guildford have lost a great public servant.

“He was part of my team in what was then Croydon Central, so I was particularly delighted to have him as part of the Mole Valley Conservative team winning in both constituencies.

“Personally, I will miss him more than many of his political friends particularly because of our long association.“

And former MP Anne Milton said: “My thoughts are with his family, his friends and all those who knew him. Such a warm-hearted and generous man who will be much missed.”

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Responses to Death of Former Mayor Richard Billington Reported by his Group Leader

  1. James Walsh Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    This is devastating news, I am so saddened to hear of Richard’s passing.

    Richard had a mischievous sense of humour and I enjoyed getting to know him during my time on the council.

    We would always share a laugh and enjoy some political banter and, later, I would talk to him about his illness and share my experience of my mum and her brain tumour. Richard had some very lovely words for me about this the last time we met, which will stay with me forever.

    He was a truly decent man and proof indeed that political differences are no barrier to friendship and respect. I’m going to miss you Richard.

    James Walsh is a Labour borough councillor for Stoke.

  2. Bill Stokoe Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    Sad news indeed. My thoughts are with his family.

    Bill Stokoe is chair of the Guildford Vision Group

  3. Nigel Kearse Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    Simply devastated by this sad news. No matter what your brand of politics he was one in a million who made sound choices and really cared for others. An all round great man who will be sorely missed.

    Nigel Kearse is a former Conservative borough councillor for As South & Tongham.

  4. Adrian Chandler Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    Yet another dedicated public servant leaving us too soon. Vast experience and great humour. RIP Richard.

    Adrian Chandler is a former Conservative borough councillor for Onslow.

  5. David Bilbe Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    I am very sad. He was a really nice person prepared to work with everyone. An example for all of us.

    David Bilbe is the Conservative borough councillor for Normandy.

  6. Theresa Chant Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 7:37 pm

    I was saddened to hear that he had passed. He was such a lovely man, always had time to talk.

  7. Dianne Smith Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 7:39 pm

    I was saddened to hear of the death of my dear friend Richard. We met when he was a British Intelligence Corps officer with NATO and I was his US Army counterpart. He was such a generous host, so proud to show me Guildford when I visited. He will be sorely missed.

    Dr Dianne Smith, LTC, USA Retired

  8. John Holton Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    I met Richard in 1986 when he became a very valuable member of our team at British Telecom International. Always a strong character with a strong sense of duty to the community, he will be much missed by a huge number of people, many of whom never had the opportunity to meet this outstanding gentleman.

    Rest in peace dear friend.

  9. Heather Dean Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    Very sad to hear the news. He will be missed by many.

    Our thoughts are with his family.

    Heather Dean is the hon secretary of Surrey Playing Fields

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