MAJOR Jason de Welburn FitzGerald-Smith became a leading campaigner and advocate for Malton during his latter years following a distinguished military career.
Born in Harrogate in 1945, he was the only son of Lieutenant Colonel James Patrick FitzGerald-Smith of the Royal Engineers and the artist Dorothy FitzGerald-Smith.
He was educated at Wellington College and after Sandhurst he was commissioned into 3rd Carabiniers, serving with Royal Scots Dragoon Guards after the amalgamation of the Carabiniers and Royal Scots Greys. Before transferring to the Royal Artillery, he obtained an M.Sc at Shrivenham. In his 27-year military career, he served in Cyprus, Libya and Germany, completed five tours of duty in Northern Ireland and was finally posted to the Ordnance Board.
He was then recruited to join the international staff of Nato in Brussels. He was a member of The Cavalry and Guards Club for 46 years.
In 1984 he met his partner and long-term companion Penny Campbell Adamson in London and they regularly took holidays back in North Yorkshire, leading Mr FitzGerald-Smith to settle in Malton in preparation for his semi-retirement in 1999.
On his arrival in Malton, he threw himself enthusiastically into local life, applying his many skills gained from a long and distinguished military career.
From 2000 to 2006, he was a member of the Malton & Norton Initiative which supported the creation of the post of town manager to help promote the twin towns.
He was a member of Malton Town Council from 2003, Deputy Mayor from 2007 to 2009, Mayor from 2009 to 2013 and Deputy Mayor again from 2013, until his untimely death in Malton Hospital on February 4 following a short but aggressive illness.
He is remembered for his passion for Malton and all that it is: as Mayor, he would “shout the praises” about the town and its community to all and sundry.
On one occasion, when leading a residents’ march in protest about Wentworth Street Car Park becoming yet another supermarket, he installed himself on the balcony of the Old Town Hall, picked up a megaphone the wrong way round and started addressing the crowd below.
Always a personality who could not be ignored, he had a strong sense of the ridiculous, with the last laugh always at himself.
He was also a member of the North Yorkshire Police Authority, Ryedale Cameras in Action and chairman of the Malton, Norton & District Branch of the Thirsk & Malton Conservative Association. In 2013, he stood as the Conservative candidate for Malton in the North Yorkshire County Council elections.
He loved horses and acquired an in-depth knowledge of National Hunt and Flat racing. He enthusiastically welcomed the news that the Injured Jockeys Fund is building Jack Berry House in Malton as their northern rehabilitation centre for injured jockeys. He was also very well versed in British and American military history and travelled worldwide.
He appreciated good food, learning to cook to a standard to compete at the Malton Food Festival, and enjoyed the many culinary establishments in and around Malton and North Yorkshire.
He has been described as a “bundle of energy”, “irrepressible, warm-hearted and self-deprecating”, and “a convivial raconteur”.
He had a natural aversion to bullying and was known to intervene without fear to stop it. He was highly respected for his diplomacy, friendship, generosity and ease of manner and he will be greatly missed by Penny, his family and all who knew him.