It is with great sadness that Guildford Liberal Democrats announce the death of our friend and colleague, Tom Sharp.

August 26, 2021 8:32 AM

Tom Sharp CBE: 19th June 1931 to 20th August 2021

Tom Sharp CBE

It is with great sadness that Guildford Liberal Democrats announce the death of our friend and colleague, Tom Sharp.

Tom was a generous, compassionate and intelligent man who cared deeply for the people of Guildford serving them tirelessly, first as a Surrey County Councillor from 1989 to 2005 and then also as a Guildford Borough Councillor from 1991 to 1999.

Prior to his involvement in Guildford politics, Tom had a career as a civil servant working at the Board of Trade (subsequently Department of Trade, Department of Industry and the DTI) from 1954-87. From 1973-76 he was seconded to the Foreign Office as Commercial Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington DC. He was awarded a CBE in 1987 for the prime role he played in the privatisation of British Telecom. From 1987-91 he worked briefly for Lloyds, the insurance market.

Tom's absolute dedication to the cause of Liberal Democracy, the people of Guildford and the game of bridge will be greatly missed.

Our thoughts go out to all of his family and friends.

Zöe Franklin, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Guildford and Cranleigh
Catherine Houston, Chair of Guildford Liberal Democrats

Following the news Cllr David Goodwin responded on behalf of Guildford Borough Council's Liberal Democrat group saying:

"My overriding memory of Tom was his belief in and commitment to the Liberal Democrats both locally and nationally. He was a true liberal and this extended through to his work with residents and fellow councillors (from all sides) - balanced, hard-working and fair. So, it was a real honour to take over from him on both the Borough and County Councils.

"With his wife Margaret, Baroness Sharp (an equally avid Lib Dem member who served in the Lords and fought the Guildford parliamentary seat between 1983 and 1997), they generously opened their home to Guildford Liberal Democrats - as both the local party office and for their legendary fundraising dinners. They were real cornerstones of the local party, always helping at events alongside their councillor and other community work.

"Tom supported so many councillors and candidates past and present in their elections - not only with his words of wisdom but also delivering election leaflets right across our constituency. He knew it inside out and impressed us all with his tenacity & fitness to deliver so many of them well into his 80s!"

Former Liberal Democrat MP Sue Doughty who knew him well, also shared her memories:

"Quite rightly, Tom Sharp will always be remembered with affection in Guildford, a community he served in many ways, not only as a County and Borough Councillor but also as a school governor and for his involvement with so many local organisations.

"For me, out of all his many great qualities, I will most remember the persistence with which he supported people. He would make time to listen to the other's point of view and seek to resolve problems especially when he felt someone had been treated unfairly. If he thought someone was wrong he would gently put forward his own views and a possible solution to the issue.

"Out campaigning with Tom was always a joy and when I first arrived in Guildford as a new Parliamentary Candidate he took me under his wing to ensure that I got to know Guildford like the back of my hand.

"I, and anyone with whom he was in contact with, shall miss him greatly. He was unique."

Tom Sharp 70th

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Your memories and condolences

From Caroline Reeves, former Guildford Borough Councillor for Friary & St Nicolas, Council Leader and Group Leader

"It was Tom Sharp's smiling face that first introduced me to the Lib Dems when I moved to Guildford. He was always engaging and helpful when he knocked on my door as one of my ward councillors, always followed up on any issues and was obviously an important part of the local community. As I got to know Tom better I realised that he was always ready to do one more delivery, take on one more challenge. And this was as well as supporting his wife, Margaret and being a key part of the Guildford Lib Dem Executive. For many years Tom was one of a few who were the mainstay of the Guildford Lib Dems, his charm and humour will be sorely missed."

From Margaret Westwood

Tom was a lovely man - easy to work with, wry sense of humour, loved people and plants. When he held the dual roles of both County Councillor and Borough Councillor his contributions to Holy Trinity Focus (which I was editing at the time) were always prepared with great care to ensure the message was clear. However there were occasions when he got a bit over excited and the punctuation went haywire. I once teased him that his current piece resembled a stream of consciousness worthy of James Joyce - to which he responded with "better than a stream of unconsciousness". He worked unstintingly for the Lib Dems and always had "people" in the forefront of his mind. He was a kind and generous friend to my late husband. Everyone who knew him will share happy memories of him.

From Philip Goldenberg

Tom and Margaret have been friends and colleagues for some 40 years - effectively since the creation of the Liberal/SDP Alliance in 1981. In addition, I remain eternally grateful to Tom for his help with Surrey County Council in relation to our late son Jonathan's Special Educational Needs. One gentle, but extraordinarily well-targeted, letter cut a Gordian knot at a single stroke. Requiescat in pace.

From Dale and Paul Miller

Dear Margaret We were so sorry to hear that Tom had passed away. We only knew him briefly as someone who welcomed us into your home at election times, but he was always friendly and helpful towards us. Deepest sympathy to you on the loss of your life partner. Dale and Paul Miller

From Dinah Bisdee

I moved to Guildford in 2004 and I first met Tom and Margaret when leafleting/ campaigning for Sue Doughty in the 2005 election. He was always very friendly and welcoming, and full of energy, putting some younger members to shame! Condolences to Margaret, and RIP Tom.

From Ellen Gibson Horrocks

A great loss for Guildford and national Liberal Democracy. A wonderful man. I send my condolences to his family.

From Lissy (Melissa Mahama, Tamsy's daughter)

When I was growing up in Guildford the Liberal Democrats were working passionately for a better town, county, and world. I took it for granted that there were people like Tom, clever and caring, that would make good decisions for the right reasons. I now know I was lucky growing up with a safe feeling like that. I will always remember Tom and am grateful for all that he did. Love to Margaret.

From Martin Dowland

Very sad to learn of Tom's passing. He was in my memory a thoroughly sincere person and appeared driven by good intentions with absolute integrity. If only there could be more like him, I am sure the world would be a better place.

From Louise Jones

Tom was such a kind gentleman with a wonderful sense of humour. He was so kind to me and supportive to us in Cranleigh.

From Anne Lee

So many happy memories of time spent walking, delivering and talking with Tom. Thank you Tom.