David Rees Ireland
DescriptionDavid was born in the Welsh village of Hengoed in the Rhymney Valley just north of Cardiff. He was one of four brothers and a sister: William, twins Daniel and Thomas, and Frances. His was a family that grew up just after the Depression. When there was work, which wasn’t too often, his father, Rees Ireland (1899-1981) worked underground in the Penallta Collieries.
David was an overhead line engineer for the Southern Electricity Board. Ever proud of his roots he said that he was Welsh only on international days. On others, he was British.
He married Janet Margaret Cuff, a native of Nailsworth, Gloucester in 1957 and they had two daughters: Sian and Ceinwen. In 1973, a few months after moving to Arthur Road, he was concerned about education and attended a meeting of the St. Paul’s School Association where he made a few comments and, before he knew it, he was elected on to the committee. At a later date he was persuaded to stand for election to Wokingham Town Council as an Independent Councillor..
He was always adamant that party politics should not play a part at town council level. In his opinion the town was made up of people, not politicians, so he did not think that the council should be dominated by political debate. It should be run by the people for the people.
He also felt that more control over Wokingham's car parking planning decisions should rest with the town council and not with the district council. At that time car parking charges in Wokingham subsidised free parking in Woodley and Twyford.
He joined the R.E.M.E. for his National Service and was the first ex-R.E.M.E. soldier to be elected mayor of a town to which his regiment had been granted Freedom of the Town.
His second Mayoral term was a memorable one. In January 1983 he presented, at a full Town Council meeting, the Wokingham Cup to Lieut.-Col. Peter Glass Commander (Maintenance) Northern Ireland to be awarded each year to a unit of the R.E.M.E. soldiers in the province that had done most to foster local community and welfare there. This was the second town token for the serving R.E.M.E. soldiers in Northern Ireland, who already had the use of a sailing yacht named Wokingham.
During the following month the Citizen’s Advice Bureau moved back to its old offices in Wokingham Town Hall after being based in Langborough Road for a year. David officially opened the modernised offices which had two interview rooms and an extended office area.
In March of that year Canon John Lawton presented the Mayor with the 180 year-old Acorn Cup that had originally given to Captain and Commandant James Webb by the townspeople of Wokingham in 1798 for his part in their protection. The cup had been in the care of the Canon, a descendant of James Webb, for many years.
In April he opened The Courtyard Market in the covered courtyard of the Town Hall which marked the near–completion of the town hall renovation programme.
In October 1983, during a trip by David to Northern Ireland to visit the R.E.M.E. the Lord Mayor of Belfast, presented him with a paper weight. The top-secret one-day visit was made to enable him to present the Wokingham Cup, previously presented by him on behalf of the Town Council to R.E.M.E. in 1982. During the late 1970s together with Rev. A. Lloyd-Davies, Rector of St. Paul’s Church, David founded the Wokingham Welsh Society at the Old School Rooms, Station Road, Shute End.
A person who enjoyed meeting people, David organised the first trip to
Erfstadt in 1978 and returned there four times. Whilst previous Mayors flew to Erfstadt David drove so that he could visit the R.E.M.E. workshops in Belgium and Germany.
At the end of his Mayoral term he donated wine glasses and silver plate for the Mayor’s Parlour.
SourceFormer Town Mayors of Wokingham from 1980 - 2015, by J Bell.
“David Rees Ireland,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed July 4, 2020, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0119.