Nigel Cowgill

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BY the time Nigel Cowgill was 50 and took retirement, he was one of the most respected and influential personalities within the Crown Prosecution Service.

Remarkably, he had left school at 16, his qualifications just enough to get him a job as an office junior at Leeds Magistrates’ Court.

He was noted for driving a black GT mini with blacked out windows.

His parents were Joe and Doreen Cowgill, and he spent most of his childhood in Menston where Mr Cowgill was a master painter and decorator.

He went to Menston Junior School, Ilkley Grammar and, from the age of 13, Trinity House Navigation School in Hull.

Having worked in all the administration departments in the magistrates’ courts, by the early 80s he had become a trainee court clerk, his exceptional single-mindedness now in evidence.

Disciplined and determined, he worked to get the necessary legal qualifications to become a Court Clerk, but that was not sufficient. He continued to study in his spare time, and eventually qualified as a barrister.

In 1986, he joined the Bradford office of the Crown Prosecution Service, his flair and enthusiasm for law, coupled with an ability to get straight to the core of the matter, bringing him to the attention of Neal Franklin, Chief Crown Prosecutor for West Yorkshire.

He promoted Mr Cowgill to unit head where he proved to be a formidable leader, driving significant improvements in performance and professionalism.

Mr Franklin used him as a trouble shooter, knowing he would deliver the required improvements quickly, efficiently and without fuss.

Regularly surpassing expectation as to what could be achieved, he made so great an impression across the service that in 2003 he was appointed Chief Crown Prosecutor for Humberside.

After leading Humberside to the best performing area across England and Wales, he was appointed Group Chair for South Yorkshire and Humberside where he remained until his retirement in late 2008.

Mr Cowgill brought energy, focus and enthusiasm to all that he did, and his interests were wide ranging.

He had been a member of the Yorkshire Road Runners Scooter Club, for many years being troubled by a serious knee injury resulting from a fall from his scooter.

He played the guitar, he and his pupil Steve Mellor forming a duo in the early ‘90s, and he resurrected the Threshfield Cricket Club.

After he retired, his particular interest was in horses.

He had ridden in his early teens, but it was after marrying his wife Sue in 1981 that he became serious.

Their first horse was Bella, a part-bred Cleveland Bay, and in due course they began breeding pure-bred Clevelands.

Their Highpasture Cleveland Bays, and their more recent Hawlmark part- bred Clevelands, were highly successful.

Mr Cowgill became an authority on the breed, researching their history and collecting relevant antiquarian books. He was active in the Cleveland Bay Horse Society, serving as a council member and clerk to the stallion inspectors, and was Honorary Studbook editor for almost 10 years.

The most successful horse to come out of their stable was Hawlmark Classic Twilight, a finalist at the Cuddy Championship at the Horse of the Year show last October.

Mr Cowgill has been described as the ultimate action man who had the happy knack of bringing out the best in all those with whom he worked; in all his relationships, his clear-headedness, fairness and sense of humour contributed to the high regard and affection in which he was held.

Mr Cowgill, 55 when he died, is survived by wife Sue.