Nigel Woods: Tributes to man ‘who put Market Drayton on map’
Market Drayton has said goodbye to one of its most recognisable and beloved residents.
Nigel Henry Woods died peacefully at his home on Kiln Bank Road in January, aged 66, after a lifetime of serving the town he loved.
His was a familiar face throughout the town, having served as a town councillor for much of his life and becoming mayor on two separate occasions.
Born in the Dalelands, Mr Woods’ working life was spent as a civilian worker for the Ministry of Defence around Shropshire, before becoming a health and safety officer at Shropshire Council and eventually working in Morrisons in his hometown.
Alongside his council duties, he was known, once he retired, for his tireless and enthusiastic work on behalf of Market Drayton, putting it on the map in the UK and further afield.
He was a crucial part of the efforts to set up twinning operations with towns and cities in France and Belgium, embracing his role as an ambassador for Drayton and winning lifelong friends overseas with his universally-friendly nature.
Ambassador for the town
Mr Woods' funeral was held on February 5, with St Mary’s Church in the town packed with people whose lives he had touched.
Fellow councillor Roy Aldcroft remembered his friend fondly, saying: “Nigel was twice mayor, a worthy citizen and elected by his own town council an Honorary Townsman. He was the ‘French Twinning Connection’, and an undeniably warm and friendly ambassador for the town at home and abroad.
“He joined Market Drayton Town Council in the late 1980s. He was extremely keen to promote the town itself, the town museum, gingerbread connections, and eventually our twinning organisations. He served over 20 years on the town council and was outstandingly photogenic throughout.
“Fiercely Draytonian, he supported the community he was born into, participating in many issues affecting the town over the years. He was an active, very well liked and respected member of the town council. The chance to twin Market Drayton with Pézenas took his tourism efforts to a new level. He joined with police officers on the beat on a Saturday night to see and experience the nightlife in Drayton, he even went tree-planting with Joanna Lumley.
“In his second term as mayor he was supporting our twinning with Arlon along with fellow councillors and a team of enthusiastic supporters in Belgium. He was part of the committee that hosted and organised trips between the towns, pushing our tourism to the limit.
“Of course when he wasn’t working or on council duty he would relax at the amdrams, playing in a number of musicals locally. The common thread found with all the people who knew Nigel, was that he made time for people, young, old, French, Belgian and Draytonians. He had a good sense of humour and was an accomplished amateur actor.
“Nigel was unique, if you cracked him open he would have Market Drayton stamped throughout. He will be sorely missed.”
'A charming, humourful man'
Victoria Vespa is a member of the Market Drayton Amateur Operatics and Dramatics Society, and has fond memories of Nigel’s tireless years organising and performing. She said: “On behalf of all members past and present, I want to say how much Nigel Woods will be missed. A massive part of amdrams until he became unwell, many of us have some wonderful memories of him. Sleep tight Nigel.”
Tributes came from abroad too, with Christine Torro Personnaz posting her condolences on Facebook. Christine lives in Pézenas, the French town that is twinned with Market Drayton.
She wrote: “Our deepest sympathy to Gill, Laura and Hannah Woods for the loss of their husband and father Nigel Woods. We all loved him, he was a charming, humourful man.
“He will be missed in Pézenas as well as in Market Drayton.”
“Thank you Nigel for all the good memories! Make our usual toast with all the friends you will meet in heaven where you belong: l’Amitié!”
Elliott Powellwas a colleague of Nigel’s, and he said: “Loved working with him at Morrisons on the checkouts. A true gentleman. Rest in peace Nigel. All my love to the family at this sad time.”
Sarah Speller added: “The man who would always raise a smile. Sleep tight Nigel. No more suffering and your soul is back at the happy place. You were an outstanding part of town but an even bigger and better father and husband. R.I.P.”
And Darren Taylor said: “Sad news. I always found him to be both funny and approachable. Affection beyond politics. Drayton shares your loss.”
Mr Woods is survived by wife Gill, daughters Laura and Hannah and grandchildren Oscar and Rowan.