Shropshire Star

Tributes paid to 'supremely intelligent' former Ludlow mayor and TV quiz contestant

Tributes have been paid to a former Ludlow Mayor whose commitment to the town council "did not waiver", following his death this week.

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Sean O’Neill, Who Wants to be a Millionaire money winner from Ludlow.

Councillor Sean O’Neill had served on the council since 2017 and used to write questions for TV's black chair quiz Mastermind. He was also a money winner on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 2006 at the age of 49.

Former Councillor Di Lyle, who had served on the same Rockspring ward with Mr O'Neill, said: "He will be missed as a quiet influence on the town council.

Sean O'Neill. Picture: Ludlow Town Council

"It was an absolute privilege to work with him on the council and he will be a hard act to follow."

She added: "He was supremely intelligent and was a question setter on Mastermind. He certainly kept his light under a bushel but you would find out how clever he was in the pub after council meetings!

"He also travelled an enormous amount for BT I think."

She added that Councillor O'Neill had a hugely positive attitude despite his illnesses and "soldiered on bravely".

Ludlow Town Council in a statement said it is "deeply saddened" by the news of Councillor O'Neill's death on Tuesday. It said he was a valued member since joining in June 2017. During his two terms in office, he played an active part in the town’s civic life.

Sean O'Neill and CT in play.JPG

He had held the post of vice chair of policy and finance committee and also supported the work of representational committee, services committee and climate action sub committee.

The statement said: "His commitment to the council did not waiver during recent periods of ill-health."

Mayor of Ludlow, Councillor Glenn Ginger said: "The whole council is deeply saddened by the passing of Councillor O’Neill.

"Sean was a great supporter of the mayor’s charity events. He selflessly gave his time to organise excellent pub quizzes. I and other mayors are very grateful to him for his support."

The statement added that in the coming days Ludlow Town Council will honour the service of Councillor O'Neill. The town flag will be flown at half-mast and councillors will "do all they can to support his family at this difficult time".

Councillor O'Neill's death and Ms Lyle's resignation mean that the town council ward of Rockspring is not currently represented.

The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Wiki page says that Mr O'Neill, a procurement manager from Ludlow, appeared as a contestant on Series 19 of the UK version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on 27th May and 3rd June, 2006. He walked away with £1,000 after missing his £32,000 question.

The Shropshire Star at the time recorded that viewers from across Shropshire tuned in.

He had reached £16,000 but when the clock ran out, his winning streak had to be put on hold. Councillor O’Neill had to go back into the hot seat the next week.

He had just one lifeline left in his attempt to become one of only a handful of people to scoop the top prize.

He told the Star: “It was a great experience taking part in the show.

“I had been trying to get on since the show first began and I first managed it back in February.”

Councillor O’Neill used two lifelines – ask the audience and phone a friend – in the first screening of the show.

He didn't watch the final show of his run as he was competing in the World Quiz Championships in Newport in Wales.

He dropped out to the question. Which comedienne was the niece of Conservative politician Nancy Astor?

Councillor said Irene Handl but the correct answer was Joyce Grenfell.