Chairman of The Worthing Society dies

David Sumner next to a blue plaque in 2006.
David Sumner next to a blue plaque in 2006.

The chairman of The Worthing Society, known for his work to help conserve the town, has died aged 82.

David Sumner died on Wednesday at Worthing Hospital, after being admitted with cancer some weeks earlier.

According to his colleague Tony Malone, he was one of the leading figures in the civic life of Worthing and was well-known, liked and respected throughout the town and further afield.

He described him as ‘a gentleman, always fair and dedicated to Worthing conservation’.

Originally a member of The Civic Society, David joined The Worthing Society later, rising through the ranks to become chairman in 2005.

He was involved in many planning issues, including the Aquarena proposals, the Grand Avenue tower block plan, and ongoing proposals for Montague Place.

Tony, vice-chairman of The Worthing Society, added: “During my years as vice-chairman David was a great mentor to me in learning about local heritage and conservation. His passion for Worthing was infectious. His leadership and communication qualities were an inspiration to me.

“In meetings or public debates he never resorted to blustering and shouting – he simply didn’t need to. Because we worked closely together on society work we phoned, or saw each other frequently at each other’s homes, to discuss issues and seek solutions.

“We soon became more than chairman and vice-chairman. We became firm friends, holding each other in great affection. I will miss our chats and his guidance, but more than that I will miss his friendship.”

David’s other interests included the theatre, golf, jazz, and classical music.

He attended Worthing High School and this was followed by national service in the Army, during which he served in Korea.

His family were well-known in Worthing, and David worked for the family business – The Spinnet café in Montague Place.

He later opened a number of stores selling Scandinavian goods, before returning to another family café later.

Tony said David was very keen on the use of blue plaques to commemorate notable people who had been connected with Worthing or buildings of historic interest.

David’s funeral will take place on Monday, May 23, at 3.40pm at Worthing Crematorium in Horsham Road. All family and friends are welcome, and any donations will go to St Barnabas House hospice.

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