David Gains

DAVID George Gains, who has died aged 74, was a local government officer of the old school, dedicated to his profession and noted for a cool head in a crisis.

He spent his entire career with Harrogate Borough Council and by the time he retired, in 1997, he had worked his way up to the position of borough administrator.

His long service meant he was a fount of knowledge and was the first person people turned to for information about things from the past. Even after he retired he would be rung him at home.

Mr Gains was born in Harrogate and educated at Rudding Park Junior School and Harrogate School of Art and Technology. When he left at 16 he applied for three local government jobs, but when he did not receive any replies he went to work for a chicken farmer in Knaresborough.

In 1952, however, he was offered a job by the then Harrogate Corporation and started work as a junior committee clerk in the town clerk's department, studying at night school for his local government examinations.

From then he had a variety of roles with the authority, and its successor councils, before his final promotion to borough administrator with the present Harrogate Borough Council. By the time he retired he was in charge of administration, elections, electoral registration, committee management, member services and the mayoral office, and had been the right- hand man to three successive chief executives.

In his early days, he was one of a number of clerks who took minutes at council and committee meetings, and then stood at an easel to produce them in hand written script.

Mr Gains was noted for his integrity, never showing favour to any side, and he was a natural diplomat whose skills at managing many difficult political issues were legendary.

His good nature and humour were well regarded by everyone and he was very popular with his colleagues.

By the time he retired, he was the principal link between councillors and the council collectively, and he was seen as a father figure to many councillors.

Mr Gains was also a key member of the team that finally resolved the outstanding problems over the building of Harrogate's International Conference Centre, which was a controversial project of its time.

He did National Service with the West Yorkshire Regiment, serving in Northern Ireland and at Suez.

He met his wife, Barbara, when they both worked in the council offices, in Crescent Gardens, he for the local authority and she for the Medical Officer of Health. They married in 1973 and settled in Ripon.

In his youth Mr Gains was a keen cricketer playing for Harrogate Gas Board as an opening batsman. He was also a talented table tennis player, but he was most skilful at golf, playing firstly at Knaresborough before joining Ripon Golf Club where he played for many years.

Mr Gains is survived by his wife, sons John and Stephen, granddaughter Amelia and his older brother Peter.

A funeral service is to be held in Ripon Cathedral on Tuesday, at noon.