In the early hours of this morning, Russell Harsant, a friend and former colleague, lost his fight against cancer and passed away peacefully at St Elizabeth Hospice, Ipswich.
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Liz and their family.
Cllr Russell Harsant was a gentle and intelligent man who warmly welcomed me into the Ipswich Conservative Party fold back in 2003. After the General Election in 2005, when the former constituency chairman made it known he intended to step down, Russell was quick to put my name forward to succeed him showing how much he valued younger people coming through the ranks: a strength not always shown by senior members of local parties. Russell was older and more experienced but always thoroughly modern.
Russell had an illustrious political career in Ipswich, serving as a borough councillor and county councillor for several decades and was leader of the Conservative Group on Ipswich Borough Council soon after he was elected for the first time in 1983. Twenty years later during my time as chairman of Ipswich Conservatives, Russell served as a Vice-President of the Conservative Association where he offered wise words to a young and far less experienced politico. I was also fortunate to share a Borough Ward with Russell when we were both Bixley ward councillors on the Council between 2007 and 2011: his deep knowledge of Bixley was a superb help to me during my time as a councillor.
Ipswich will be a poorer place by his passing. Russell, may you rest in peace.