Shropshire Star

Village green set to be named after councillor who did so much to save it

A former councillor who worked day and night for the people of his community will have a green named after him.

Councillor John Smart

Councillor John Smart, who died on January 31 last year, had been instrumental in getting the green space near Hadley's Methodist Church protected from development.

Ron Plenderleith, himself a former Hadley and Leegomery Parish Councillor, said: "I served for 34 years in the military and I know when people are doing good work.

"John would work day and night for the people of Hadley and this will be a lovely honour."

And in a lovely twist the naming ceremony for the Councillor John Smart Village Green is set to take place at 11am on March 19 - the exact same time and date as John's marriage to Pat in 1966.

Pat, who remains a councillor, said: “John never sought or expected thanks or recognition. He was modest and self-effacing and just did what needed doing, especially for our schools.

"He cared passionately about our community and worked very hard for it.

"I have been overwhelmed by the respect shown to him.

"Our family is extremely proud of a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and friend.”

John Smart was born in Church Street, Hadley, on St Patrick’s Day, 1943, of a local well-respected family. He attended the village school before passing for Wellington Grammar School.

He was a sportsman representing the school at cricket and athletics. During this time he met Pat Young, the girl who later became his wife.

He completed a five-year engineering apprenticeship at GKN Sankey where his father, Reg Smart, was a manager.

They have two daughters, Rachel Andrews and Helen Williamson, and two grandsons, Luke and Joseph Andrews.

The couple were very interested in their community and became members of a residents' group that met up and discussed local issues.

Along with others, they decided that more could be done to mitigate the problems faced by local people and stood for election to the parish council in 1995, serving on various committees.

Eventually, the Residents Association, led by John, became the ruling group of Hadley and Leegomery Parish Council with Pat as chair.

In 2012 he was elected as chairman, a role which he held until 2019 when he stepped down due to ill health.

The residents' association's raison d’être was to achieve as many improvements as possible to create an environment pleasing to everyone, including new shrub and flower beds on available spaces and traffic islands, as well as the hanging baskets and planters, even at the hospital.

At one stage the green space near the Methodist Church was under threat of development.

John learned of an Act of Parliament allowing anyone to apply to have such spaces registered as village or town greens.

In order to protect this valuable space he lead the parish council into the legal battle to make this happen involving a barrister to provide the legal the case for registration. With the support of both parish and borough councils, this was completed successfully.

John and Pat together built a stained glass business in which they worked together for 25 years.

John served as treasurer then property steward of Hadley Methodist Church, a governor of the Manor School, chairman of the parish council including the position of chairman of the committee that liaised between borough and all the parish and town councils, and trustee of the Thomas Crump land on which Hadley Learning Community is sited.

Mr Smart died peacefully at his home in Church Street, Hadley on Sunday, January 31, 2021, aged 77, after a long illness borne with immense courage and patience. Thanks to Covid restrictions, his funeral could only be attended by 30 people - but it was streamed online.

Mr Smart had also been a committed fan of Shrewsbury Town, following the team home and away.