Surrey’s 2016 Citizen of the Year has died.
Rick Hart, known as “Mr. Fleetwood” to many, passed away on Saturday (July 2) at the age of 62 after a short battle with brain cancer.
He was diagnosed in March.
Hart was president of the Fleetwood Community Association and contributed to the creation of Francis Park, Bucci Park, the Fleetwood Town Centre Plan and the Surrey Sports & Leisure complex. He was also founder of the Fleetwood Festival, a spokesman for the Light Rail Links Coalition and recently helped launch the Fleetwood Business Improvement Association.
“There was nothing Rick enjoyed more than working in the community to make positive change and make a difference in people’s lives,” said his wife Joy.
“For Rick, ‘no’ was never an option, there was always a way to get ‘yes’ and he always strived to do the right thing, for the right reason.”
Joy said one of Rick’s favourite quotes was “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Mayor Linda Hepner said Rick’s death is a “big loss” to the city and the “many things he’s done over the years are probably too numerous to mention.”
She said she will remember him for his passion and positive attitude.
“I think it’s fair to say you’ll be hard pressed in today’s busy world to find someone who wants to spend the kind of time that Rick volunteered for decades in his community. As an advocate and as someone who looked at the glass as half full,” said Hepner. “He’s just been an enormous part of the community as a whole, and primarily Fleetwood.”
Hepner said Rick will also be remembered for his many contributions to Surrey’s heritage.
“He has his handprint all over the heritage register,” she added.
Hart pushed hard for a statue of pioneer Arthur Thomas Fleetwood outside the Fleetwood Community Centre and the nearby Francis Park, named after Edith Francis who was Arthur’s sister.
The mayor described Rick as the “consummate advocate” and is happy the city was able to name him Citizen of the Year in Surrey this year.
“We knew he was unwell. I didn’t know the extent of the cancer but we certainly knew,” said Hepner, adding the city wanted to honour him before he passed.
Rick’s family will be holding a private service.