Tribute to former Sidmouth town councillor

Sidmouth’s farewell to straight talking former Met police inspector

FRIENDS from far and near joined the family this week for the funeral of Scots-born Hugh O’Donnell, a former Metropolitan police officer and Sidmouth town councillor who has died, aged 74.

Representing the Salcombe Regis ward from 1990-1999, he was a member of a council working party which researched the feasibility of a harbour and for Sidmouth becoming a Jurassic Coast gateway town.

Paying tribute after a Celebration Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood on Tuesday, Councillor Ann Liverton said: “Hugh was never afraid to say what he thought. He was dedicated and made a significant contribution to the council especially in debate.”

The town council held a minute’s silence for Mr O’Donnell at its January 9 meeting when chairman, Stuart Hughes said: “I had a lot of time for Hugh. You always got something straight from him. He called a spade a spade. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Town clerk, Trina Jarrett, worked with Hugh at Sidmouth International School more than 25 years ago.

“Subsequently he came on to the council. He was always very honest and a very kind man as well,” she said.

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A man of forthright views, Hugh is also remembered for a broad Scottish accent which he never lost.

Touching on this, a family compilation on his life said: “When people commented on his broad Scottish accent he used to say he was born and bred in Sidmouth and picked up his accent on holiday in Scotland!”

Hugh O’Donnell, born in Hamilton, the youngest of seven children, joined Lanarkshire police after National Service in the RAF. He served in the Met for 27 years to the rank of inspector and met his wife, Jenny, also a police officer, on the nightshift at Heathrow Airport.

They married in 1971 and retirement in 1986 brought them to Sidmouth, which they ‘discovered’ during the many holidays they had enjoyed together in Devon and Cornwall.

“We always seemed to end up in Sidmouth for a day,” the family said.

A regular at Sidmouth Golf Club and secretary of the Sailing and Sea Angling Club, and a keen supporter of the RNLI, Hugh loved fishing and boats and in his last months learned to play the guitar.

But above all else he had the greatest appreciation for his family and for his church in Sidmouth.

He leaves two sons by Jenny; Hugh and Martin, a Detective Sergeant in the Met and a third son, Michael, a constable with the Dorset Force, by a previous marriage.