news

Chester funeral for former leader of Cheshire County Council

Simon Cussons was also the man who approved Manchester City's first £1m signing

Simon Cussons who died on February 24, 2017

Former Conservative leader of Cheshire County Council Simon Cussons, the man who sanctioned the first £1m plus transfer to Manchester City FC and a member of the famous Cussons soap dynasty, passed away suddenly on February 24, aged 74.

Educated at Oundle School, Mr Cussons became a chartered accountant.

Paying tribute before a packed congregation at St Mary’s Without The Walls, Handbridge, John Timpson, a friend for 70 years and head of the Timpson family firm, asked: “How, in just 10 minutes, can I sum up someone who seemed to reinvent himself every decade and fitted at least five lives into the one he was given?”

Describing Mr Cussons as ‘an all-rounder, above average academically and good at games....but a bit of a rebel’, Mr Timpson said he had shown early signs of being an entrepreneur.

City fan

His commercial experience, topped up by the accountancy qualification, partly earned in Paris, gave Mr Cussons the confidence, while still in his 20s, to follow his legendary father as chairman of Cussons, the family business, which he eventually sold to Paterson Zochonis.

His keenness to acquire shares in Manchester City led to such a significant holding that he provided vital help to a consortium which acquired the club with Mr Cussons joining the board.

Simon Cussons who died on February 24, 2017

“Simon eventually became their executive president with special responsibilities for City in Europe,” said Mr Timpson. “It was unfortunate timing, during his time in that office City never qualified for Europe. But he did enjoy some success. There is a picture of Simon posing in front of the League Cup in 1978 - it was 37 years before City won another trophy.”

When Mr Cussons left the Manchester City board room, he had already started on the next phase of his life by being elected as a Cheshire county councillor, eventually becoming leader of the Conservative group and, after election success, leader of the council.

“He took his social responsibilities very seriously. Many hundreds or probably thousands will have been grateful for his advice and support,” Mr Timpson suggested.

Health authority chairman

“In 1992 it was time for Simon to enter the next phase of his working life but before he could become chairman of the Macclesfield Health Authority he had to survive objections put on an early day motion to the House of Commons signed by, among others, Dennis Skinner, Ken Livingston and Jeremy Corbyn. Their criticism was quickly proved to be misplaced and Simon went on to be a major force for good in his new role.”

Despite having a succession of ‘very full time roles’, Mr Cussons found plenty of time to pursue other interests, especially sport. He was so keen on golf he bought a house at Northop, North Wales in the middle of a golf course.

A qualified umpire he not only stood in the North Wales Cricket League but also in Thailand and was an honorary member of the English Cricket Board apart from being a keen race goer and organising the The International Food and Wine Society.

“Others here will have seen many others sides to his life and his generosity,” concluded Mr Timpson. “And the most remarkable thing is that Simon pursued this incredible range of interests while being a close and constant companion to Gill and a fabulous father to Lindsay and Georgia.

“Simon was a remarkable man, a kind, generous, larger than life character who will never be forgotten.”

Love of football

In 2009 the Chronicle reported Mr Cussons had been a City fan all his life since his father first took him to a game aged five.

But it wasn’t until 1964, when he was 21, that he decided to take his love of the club one step further, buying a 10% stake in the Maine Road outfit for just £5,000.

“It is amazing when you look at what is happening at the club now,” said Mr Cussons. “I was a young man and the guy who was next to me at the games was buying a stake. The idea appealed to me so I just went for it. That wouldn’t happen now.

“I never saw it as a business. For me it was an enjoyment, I was helping run the club I supported.”

One of the biggest things he did while at City was sanctioning the club’s first £1 million transfer when they bought Trevor Francis from Nottingham Forest for £1.2m.

“I was on holiday when I received a call,” said Simon. “The board were debating the merits of signing Francis for that much. When I was asked I simply said ‘yes’. I had faith in the manager.” He sold his shares in 1985.

Elected to county council

Former Cheshire County Council chief executive Robin Wendt, who attended the funeral, recalls Mr Cussons was first elected to the county council in 1981. He became Conservative group leader in 1987/88 and was Leader of the Opposition at County Hall until 1993. In the election that year the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats combined had a majority of one over Labour and agreed to form joint administration with Mr Cussons as leader.

In addition to chairing the Macclesfield Health Authority, he then moved on to the South Cheshire Health Authority.

In addition to his other interests Mr Cussons was connected with bodies including the Hospice of the Good Shepherd at Backford, Active Cheshire and the Cheshire and Warrington Sports Partnership.

Mr Cussons was the beloved husband of Gill, loving father of Lindsay and Georgia, father-in-law of Jim and devoted grandpa of Amelie, James and Isabella. Donations, if desired, were requested to The Salvation Army and Lord’s Taverners. The funeral directors were G & M Goold.

View full mobile page