Login Register

Tributes are paid to 'irreplaceable' Isles of Scilly Council chairman Mike Hicks

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: April 06, 2013

  • Isles of Scilly council chairman Mike Hicks, who has died of cancer. He is pictured on his retirement from the Steamship Company in 2001.

Comments (1)

THE ISLES of Scilly Council is without a leader following the death of its chairman Mike Hicks.

Aged 78, he died in his sleep at St Mary's Hospital following a worsening of his condition which had seen him receiving treatment at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

A born and bred Scillonian, whose family's island roots spanned generations, he was also well known in Penzance.

After a spell in the Army he became a career seafarer, running a pleasure boat in the islands. Educated at the islands' Carn Thomas school, he married his childhood sweetheart Jocelyn Trenear and together they had five children, eight grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Mr Hicks's eldest son, master mariner and lifeboatman Stephen, followed in his father's seafaring footsteps and, like brothers Fraser and Alec, runs a pleasure boat in Scilly.

"Dad was always a strong character," he told The Cornishman.

"He was a major part of the family. We have lost a leading family figure.

"He always guided us through life. He was a good father, always doing his best even if we didn't always agree with him.

"He did his best for us and we always knew that."

Mike Hicks was a member of the Boatmen's Association and, like his father before him, held a contract with Trinity House to service the Bishop Rock Lighthouse, taking lighthouse-keepers to and from it. For years the family company Hicks and Son also held the off-island postal contract.

In the 1960s he played a prominent role in the recovery of treasure from the 1707 shipwreck off the Gilstone of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell's flagship HMS Association.

He was also a member of the famed diving unit of Penzance diver and restaurateur Roland Morris, involved in the diving operations on the wreck of HMS Colossus.

Mr Hicks, in his earlier days a black-bearded figure with a sailor's rolling gait, exchanged the sea for St Mary's Town Hall when he was elected to the islands' council in 1985.

He served for 28 years, holding the position of chairman twice in 1996-97 and again in 2010.

Two years ago the man, whose boat ferried the press around the islands in pursuit of the Queen on her 1967 visit welcomed Her Majesty himself to St Mary's.

He was a director of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, rising to the chairmanship, at times chairman of the council's housing and sea fisheries committees, represented the islands on the old Devon and Cornwall Police Authority and was a trustee of both the Edward MacDonald Trust and the Pilot Widows' Trust.

He was known as a popular figure in the islands: approachable and affable, even-tempered and straightforward.

His council deputy, vice-chairman Amanda Martin, said it was with tremendous sadness that the authority had to announce his death.

"Recently he was in discussion with Penzance Town Council and Cornwall Council to try to secure funding for our sea link," she said.

"He was a devoted family man and very proud of his Scillonian roots.

"His presence within the Council of the Isles of Scilly will be greatly missed."

Scilly's MP Andrew George called him a "larger-than-life character", adding: "He is irreplaceable."

Steamship Company chairman Andrew May said: "It came as a great shock to us all. He was a man of great stature who commanded great respect in the community. He made a difference as a Steamship director and chairman, councillor and chairman and in his work elsewhere. He leaves an impressive and enduring legacy."

Read more from The Cornishman

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters
  • elaineelhaj  |  April 17 2013, 9:00PM

    hi my name is elaine elhaj and i would like to pay tribute to mike hicks ,who i first met in sept 1981 when a friend and i took a trip to the scilly isles for the day we met him on the helicopter and he invited us along to a boat trip over to the light house what an interesting and lovely man i have never forgot that trip all those years ago and often think of him when i come to cornwall we were in hayle last week and i was in a shop and saw him on yr front page i bought the paper to bring home to read and now would like to send my sincere condolences to his family and friends , we were staying in mousehole in 1981 so remember the soloman browne lifeboat disaster very well we also made a friend we knew as sam he lost his son on the penlee too but sadly he has died we always used to have a drink with him in the ship in mousehole where another lifeboat man charles haugh lost his life ,cornwall has always been dear to me as my father was evacuated when he was 9 and stayed for several years with the marshall family in looe facing the harbour it some how brings me close to my father who has passed on he always used to take us on holiday there cornwall will always be in my memories of lots of happy times we live in essex a long way !!! but still manage to get our trip every year come rain or more rain thankyou for sharing this with you and god bless you mike hicks and love with yr family x x