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Obituary: Peter Bassett – first NFDC chief executive and founding member of New Forest Basics Bank

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The first ever chief executive of New Forest District Council and founding member of New Forest Basics Bank, Peter Bassett, has died aged 86.

Peter helped oversee the huge job of leading the council following the local government reorganisation of 1974, a job which current leader Cllr Edward Heron said would have been “no mean feat”.

“Peter was the very first chief executive of New Forest District Council following the local government reorganisation of 1974. Speaking with colleagues who were at NFDC in the 80s, I understand he was instrumental in setting up the new local authority,” he said.

Peter Bassett
Peter Bassett

Peter was also part of the churches together team that founded New Forest Basics Bank, which is run by volunteers who donate food parcels to those in need in the local area.

It was a project he was passionate about and he played a pivotal part in securing its charitable status and overseeing the building of The Cabin – its first proper home and where it operated until March 2020.

He also became a trustee of the charity and was secretary. Current New Forest Basics Bank chair, Oliver Stanley, said Peter would be “very much missed”, adding: “We owe him a great debt for his contribution to New Forest Basics Bank, particularly over the formative years. Peter was a warm, gentle and very kind man, who, supported by his wife Clare, did a great deal to get New Forest Basics Bank operating in its early days,” he added.

Peter was also a big part of the Lymington Community Centre Association, serving on its finance and executive committees. He was involved in the negotiations over the old library building in 2007 and the subsequent development of the Fuller/McLellan Halls.

He and Clare, who were married for 61 years, were later made honorary members of the association and continued to support its many activities. Peter was also an active member of the University of the Third Age and Lymington Bowling Club.

Born in Chertsey, Surrey, in 1935, Peter studied at Oxford University, gaining an MA in history. He went into local government, starting out in the treasury department at Reading Borough Council.

Peter helped oversee the job of leading the council following the local government reorganisation of 1974
Peter helped oversee the job of leading the council following the local government reorganisation of 1974

He moved to Surrey Council as the first legal articled clerk at a local authority, and while there also studied for an LLB and his solicitor’s final exams.

Once qualified, he moved to Eastbourne Borough Council and took up the role of prosecuting solicitor before being appointed deputy town clerk at Gloucester City Council. He held the same position at Southampton City Council before moving on to NFDC.

When his time with NFDC came to an end he and Clare worked in Africa for nine years, where he shared his experience in the public sector through training and consultancy roles in Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, and Zambia from 1989 to 1997.

Peter is survived by Clare, his three children, Fiona, Matthew, and Gabrielle, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

His family said he loved spending time with his large family and took great interest in their education and hobbies

“Peter was so easy and natural to respect and love, for everything he achieved in his life. For the way he treated and respected others no matter who they were, for everything he did for his family, for the community, for being an amazing husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” the family said.

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