Stalwart Cookham figure and 'absolute gentleman' passes aged 86

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

A former chairman of the Cookham Society and well-known figure in the village has died aged 86.

David Ashwanden lived ‘in the heart of Cookham’ and joined the Cookham Society in the early Seventies.

He maintained an interest in the society until late in life.

His family were long-standing Cookham residents who lived at Moor Cottage, the large house facing the war

“Because of where he lived, he always had an affinity for Cookham,” said Tom Denniford, current president of The Cookham Society.

“As a long-standing local resident, it was natural that he should have a particular interest in the village.

“He had a deep understanding of Cookham, its historical and cultural context – its architecture, its environment and its association with Stanley Spencer.

“The Cookham Society is saddened to learn of David’s death – his local knowledge and expertise were invaluable to us and he will be greatly missed by his colleagues on our committee."

As such, David served on the Cookham Society’s planning sub-committee for many years, and took on the chairmanship of the Society from 2004 to 2008.

One of his key projects was his involvement in the ‘ill-fated’ Cookham Plan several years ago.

Though eventually it had to be abandoned, David had ‘quite a considerable and critical involvement’ in it.

Over the years, he fought against plans to build homes that were out of keeping with the character of Cookham, in terms of scale or design.

Among his projects, he joint-led a petition to make Poundfield a ‘local green space’ in 2016, collecting 1,500 signatures.

David also led the charge in 2011 to attempt to have The Causeway opened to general traffic during floods.

He pushed back against the Royal Borough’s Local Plan in 2014 which sought to build many homes across 23 greenbelt sites, including land west of Whyteladyes Lane and Spencers Farm.

Dick Scarff, also of the Cookham Society, worked with David on this and remembers him as ‘a lovely guy, an absolute gentleman’.

“It was a pleasure to work with him – he knew so much about the history of Cookham and cared so much about it.

“When an issue would come up over a piece of land, he could give you its history for the last 60 years.”

David died on Thursday, May 19 peacefully at home after a long illness. He was a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

His memorial service will be held on Monday, June 13 at 3pm at Holy Trinity Church in Cookham.

“I think there will be quite a substantial turn-out for that,” said Tom.

Those planning to come are asked to wear bright clothes. Any donations should be made to Thames Hospice.

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