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Dave Wathen
Dave Wathen was Gillingham’s Town Crier for many years.

Councillors in Gillingham are hoping that a new street can be named after one of the town’s best-known couples, the late David and Brenda Wathen.

Dave Wathen was the town crier for many years and performed internationally and was also prominent in the scouting movement as head or ‘Akela‘ of Gillingham’s Cub pack. He and Brenda together set up the movement’s first Beaver colony in the town, and both were made a Freeman of Gillingham.

Councillors on the planning committee came up the suggestion for a street called Wathen Way after hearing that names have to be chosen for roads in the new development at Barnaby Mead which has been granted planning permission. Another street could be called Crier Close, they said.

‘I would like the town council to press the case for Wathen Way,’ the planning committee chair Councillor Val Pothecary told an online meeting on Monday.

‘Brenda and Dave did so much for our town and were both Freemen. I know what a popular choice it would be.’

The idea was backed by other councillors including Mike Gould and Roger Weeks.

dave wathen tribute Gillingham
The town council’s tribute to Dave Wathen after his death in 2018.

Mayor Barry Von Clemens also strongly supported the move. But he warned that he had spoken with an official from Dorset Council’s street name and numbering team who said that official policy was not to use the names of people – dead or living – for streets.

‘Can I suggest that we contact the team and explain them the reason why we want to have a named street and see what they really think? I would hate to go ahead with this and then have the insult of it being turned down,’ said Councillor Von Clemens.

Councillors agree to explore the possibility of having Wathen Way and Crier Close for the new streets. They also chose up a back-up option of Weavers Way and Silk Close, reflecting the heritage of the mill than once stood nearby.

When Dave Wathen died in 2018 Gillingham Town Council paid him a tribute, saying of him: ‘Dave touched the lives of so many and will fondly be remembered for his warmth, humanity, sense of humour, but most importantly his civic pride and dedication to our town.’

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