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Tributes paid to former Mayor of Chester

Derek Owens-Kay became the city's civic leader in 1985

Former Mayor of Chester Derek Owens-Kay(Image: UGC)

Former Mayor of Chester John Derek Owens-Kay died on August 4, aged 90.

Mr Owens-Kay was born in Ellesmere Port on October 2, 1926. He was born Derek Owens but when his parents died when he was still a baby he was adopted by the Kay family and took the surname Owens-Kay.

He grew up in Ellesmere Port and when he was 12 Britain declared war on Germany. During the war he played the role of a messenger, riding a bicycle throughout the Ellesmere Port area.

When he was 14 in 1941 he was blown off his bike when a bomb landed in the road ahead of him. Luckily uninjured but startled, he picked himself up and continued to deliver the message he was carrying.

Mr Owens-Kay joined the Royal Navy in 1944 and worked his way up to Chief Petty Officer. In 1945 he boarded a steamliner and travelled across the Atlantic to Canada.

On August 8, 1945 (the day before the nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki), Mr Owens-Kay and his crew commissioned HMS Duncansby Head (a Royal Navy repair ship), in Vancouver.

He was the ship’s writer on board HMS Duncansby Head and enjoyed his time in the Navy travelling the world. He visited many countries including Fiji, America, Australia, and Singapore, but his fondest memory was when he visited his sister in Bombay (now known as Mumbai).

After leaving the Navy he met his wife Joan who he married on September 2, 1950. They enjoyed a long marriage totalling 67 years. They had two children, Graham, and Jane, two grandchildren and a great grandchild.

He made a smooth transition from the Navy to legal work. He began working for Birkenhead council as a court clerk while living in Wallasey.

They moved to Long Lane, Chester in 1960 and Mr Owens-Kay went on to work for George Wimpy Co in the 1960s where he worked as a legal manager and conveyancer until retirement.

In the 70s he also became a local councillor for the Newton ward of Chester. From this he progressed in his political careers and became leader of Chester City Council.

In 1985-1986 he became Mayor of Chester, During this time he opened both Safeway and BHS and also supported and helped to get the park and ride scheme off the ground. This was proposed in 1983 but had only received a lukewarm reception previous to 1985.

Also during his time as mayor, he sailed from Sealand to Plymouth on the HMS Broadsword F88 (Chester’s adopted ship).

Mr Owens-Kay then retired to spend time with his family.

In a statement, his family said: “Derek was a loving husband, dad, grandad and great grandad, who would do anything for his family. He was kind, caring, generous and could always put a smile on anyone’s face. He is going to be dearly missed, however he will always be in our memories and hearts.

A funeral service will take place on Wednesday, August 23 at All Saints’ Church in Hoole at 2pm followed by burial at Blacon crematorium.

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