Tributes paid to former St Albans councillor who was a ‘great campaigner’

John was a keen fundraiser and heavily involved in politics

John was a keen fundraiser and heavily involved in politics - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid following the death of a former St Albans district councillor and keen fundraiser.

Alderman John Gunner, who grew up in St Albans and was a Lib Dem Councillor, passed away last month after a battle with motor neurone disease and the rare brain condition cavernoma.

The 57-year-old, who was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 17, served as the Deputy Mayor of St Albans in 1993 and also represented St Peter’s ward. He dedicated his life to improving lives in the local community and even became a member of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality in the early 80s.

John was an experienced mediator and became a visiting lecturer and course leader in that subject at the University of Hertfordshire, where he met his partner of 16 years, Alec Goodhand.

Alec said: “He was a great campaigner and I first met him when he came to my university.

“He campaigned for homosexual rights and I only found this out after he passed away; he was an advisor to the local police service in uniting gay people to join the police force.”

Alec, who was married to John for 10 years, described him as a “great campaigner”.

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He continued: “It’s difficult to imagine life without him; the thing that I most remember is that he didn’t think anything wasn’t possible.”

Alec added that John was funny and joked that he could also be “quite rude” with one of the “overriding” things in his eulogy being “that he knew exactly how close to the line he could get before he was actually insulting”.

John’s condition meant he was a limited walker and wheelchair user, but he did not let that stop him from raising money for charity. He had recently taken part in the International 2.4 Class European Sailing Championship, in aid of The National Brain Appeal and RYA Sailability - a charity which makes sailing accessible to people with disabilities. Prior to that, he regularly ran half marathons and sailed ocean races as a means of fundraising.

In his memory, Alec has set up a Just Giving page to raise money for the two charities that John was passionate about - The National Brain Appeal and RYA Sailability. He has set a target of £1,000 but plans to keep the pages open for as long as possible to raise as much money as he can.

He added: “He was a great believer that if you wanted something to happen, you could probably make it happen.

“You just had to badger the right people, put the right portfolio together and you could potentially change things.”

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