Tributes paid to former Sheriff of York – ‘The nicest man I have ever known’

Tributes have been paid to a former York councillor described by one friend as “quite simply the nicest man I have ever known”.

David Horwell, who was a councillor for the Foxwood and Woodthorpe wards from 1979 to 1988 and served as the Sheriff of York in 1992, died on Sunday at the age of 81.

His son Garry said David was well-known for being a lay minister at Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints on Acomb Road and for his work in the community – but also for driving around in his Renault Kangoo which David had nicknamed ‘the Popemobile’ and for his love of Maltesers and Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.

Garry said: “He loved being out and about, he was really good with people.

“He loved serving as Sheriff with Ann Reid as Lord Mayor.

“He was also a huge rugby league fan and played down at Heworth.

“As a councillor he felt strongly about jobs in the city – the railways, the chocolate factories, the growth of the insurance industry.

“He used to give boxes of Maltesers to people – he was known for that.

“He was funny. He was just a good, kind husband, father and a good York person.”

Five children

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Acomb. Photograph © Google Street View

David was born in York and worked in the family business – Horwell Brothers coal merchants which was founded by William Horwell and his brother Tom in 1919 – before going to work on the railways as a guard.

He married Sandra in 1961 and they had five children – Neil, Garry, Mark, Vicky and Lee.

David had 21 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Neil passed away in 2018 and Sandra died in 2001.

David lived most of his life in Acomb and later moved in with Garry and his family in Dunnington, where he lived for 16 years before moving into care homes Derwent House in Kexby and Beaumont Home in Stamford Bridge – both of which Garry praised for their care.

‘Two puddings’

Former council leader Steve Galloway said David was “quite simply the nicest man I have ever known”.

He added: “David was famous for his smile. He had no enemies. He got on well with everyone across the council chamber.

“He was affectionately known by staff in the Leeman Road railway canteen as ‘two puddings’ Horwell because of his liking for the sweeter end of their menu.”

“I first met David in 1978. His family were well known in York having run a local coal business.

“David decided that his future lay with British Rail. He was to work on the railways for over 30 years, mainly as a guard.

“David was a committed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Acomb David was elected to the York Council in 1979. He was one of what were, at the time, many railway workers who were Councillors at the Guildhall.

“David worked hard for west York and will be remembered with fondness by many in the area.”

Ann Reid also paid tribute – saying he will be sadly missed.