FRIENDS and colleagues from far and wide have been paying tribute to much-loved former town councillor, magistrate and newspaper columnist Ted Sherrell

Ted, the only person to ever have been given the honour of Freeman of Tavistock, for his service to the town — passed away recently, aged 81.

He was a regular contributor to the Tavistock Times, South Hams newspapers and Mid Devon Advertiser over the last decade with his ‘Totally Ted’ columns, and was a hugely popular character who held almost celebrity status in Tavistock and the Bere peninsula, where he spent most of his life.

He was known as the Father of the Council Chamber spending 40 years as a member of Tavistock Town Council and 30 years as a magistrate in West Devon before he retired from public life and he also served as a member of West Devon Borough Council for many years.

Tributes have been made this week to the man who everyone thought of as their friend.

Town councillor Anne Johnson said the town was poorer for Ted’s passing.

‘I first knew Ted when I was at school in the 1970s. In 2003 he encouraged me to join Tavistock Town Council, I met him shopping,after a few words he rushed back to his office and reappeared with a co-option pack.

‘He was always very supportive and encouraged his fellow councillors with his handwritten letters and telephone calls, he never appeared to embrace any form of technology.

‘He was honest, knowledgeable, sincere, he cared about people and was passionate about Tavistock and the Bere peninsula.

‘We are the richer for his enormous contribution to the town and its people. His popularity was reflected by the support he received at the ballot box, by electors who voted for the man of the people Ted Sherrell.

‘I will miss him and am so pleased I spoke to him recently when, despite having had a fall he was in good spirits. Tavistock is poorer for his passing.’

Town councillor Harry Smith said: ‘As a councillor it did not take long to realise that in the chamber Ted had his own unique style of debate. His contributions were always interesting and often with just a hint of humour. We remained friends after he left the council and always enjoyed a debate on how things were going within the town.

‘It was my great pleasure, in 2013, to present Ted, on behalf of the town council, the title of Freeman of Tavistock. I know that Ted always valued the rarity of such an award.

‘More recently I was putting together items to be placed in a time capsule with a broad theme of Tavistock during the pandemic. When asked Ted had no hesitation in agreeing to write his witty reflections of the time for inclusion in the capsule. So although the town has lost someone very special his wit and talent will be exposed when the time capsule is lifted in 2121.’

Ted had a very varied working life with fireman, shopkeeper, salesman, factory worker and insurance agent among his roles and he was a well established author of 13 books but throughout his life he often returned to the place where he started out as a junior reporter — the Tavistock Times Gazette — and working in all departments — advertising, production and the newsroom.

Former editor Colin Brent said: ‘It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Ted Sherrell. I worked with and knew him for more than 20 years. It was a privilege to call this kind, witty and wise man a colleague – and a friend.

‘His connection with the Times spanned several decades. He was a proof reader and what journalists often refer to as ‘a reliable source’ of information for the editorial department, but discreet with it. He was also often ‘missing in action’ for if Ted had to go on a swift mission that involved walking the length of Brook Street it might take him up to an hour, his progress frequently interrupted en route by townsfolk exchanging greetings or seeking his help during the many years he served town and borough as an independent councillor.

‘His humour was well-known and often self-deprecating. If he made an error in failing to spot a glaring ‘typo’ in a headline, when it was pointed out to him he would not shrug, mumble or avoid admitting the oversight, instead he would say – no, proclaim – ‘Guilty!’ That magisterial touch was understandable for Ted was a Justice of the Peace in the area for many years.

‘There are pillars of the community. Ted was more than that. He was a Devon boy who was not just respected and admired. He was loved.’

Former colleague at the Times John Hutchins said: ‘I joined the Times Gazette in 2006 and hit it off with Ted straight away with our shared love of Plymouth Argyle – what was not to like!

‘Ted became more than a colleague since that day; as a prolific author himself he mentored me to write a book of my own, something that I would never have done without his encouragement.

‘I shall miss his genuine warmth, humour, old fashioned courtesy and his wise counsel. Ted Sherrell was truly a one-off and for me it was a real privilege to be his friend.’

Former assistant managing director Lyn Roberts said Ted was ‘one in a million’ and there was no one who could follow in his footsteps.

‘Ted was part of a great team at the Tavistock Times, his local knowledge was invaluable to the editorial team and us all.

‘He was always on hand for advice and gave it constructively. He saw me through many of my promotions and when I ended up as assistant managing director he gave me all the encouragement I needed.

‘My thoughts are with his family and the many friends he had who benefitted from his company and support. He served the community of Tavistock extremely well as a councillor and magistrate.’

Current general manager of the Tavistock Times Lianne Carr said: ‘The passing of our beloved friend and colleague Ted has rocked each and every one of us that knew him at Tindle. To say he will be missed is an understatement.

‘I myself have known Ted for many years now and he was always a ray of sunshine. From his sweet tooth, always the first to appear when any chocolates were open, to his constant compliments to the team.

‘Ted would always pen letters to me, praising my work, the team and how much he loved the paper. He was the kindest of souls and was definitely one in a million. It was my absolute pleasure to have known him.’

A funeral service for Ted will be held on Friday, April 21 at St Eustachius’ Church in Tavistock at 2pm.