'TRIBUTE TO NICK SMITH'
By Julian Lewis
LYNDHURST CHURCH – 11 February 2003
On a Spring day in 1996, a would-be parliamentarian – me – was trudging the streets of New Forest East when a car pulled up and a beaming face looked out. I well remember the dazzling smile with which Nick introduced himself. He explained that he had been a Party Agent previously but that he was now heavily involved in supporting country sports:
“However, when the election comes, I’ll be there to help you!”
The car sped off and I wondered whether I would really hear from him again. I need not have worried. Nick was a man who always kept his promises and, when the 1997 Election came around, he was there on the first day of the campaign, on the second day, and on every day right through to election time.
He became one of the stars of our inner core of campaigners – and in the 2001 General Election campaign he did it all over again.
As Nick seemed reluctant to push himself forward politically between elections, I was both surprised and delighted that he agreed to stand as my Party’s candidate in the Marchwood by-election for New Forest District Council. But I was not surprised by the successful campaign he waged nor by the fact that he rose so rapidly when he joined the District Council and was quickly made a member of its Cabinet.
We all remember the excellent work he did at the Dibden Bay Public Inquiry, opposing the attempt to build a huge container port on the edge of the New Forest; but now we must ask ourselves whether our community could have done more for Nick – when he did so much for our community. Did our community fail to give something back to Nick? One cannot be sure whether an embrace, a show of affection or a helpful word would have made any difference; but, if he can see us now, he will know that we loved him.
He was a great man, he was a great colleague, he was a great friend and he was a great personality.