Family pay tribute to March businessman and former councillor Mike Ogden who died last night

Mike Ogden

Mike Ogden - Credit: Archant

Former Cambridgeshire county councillor and March businessman Mike Ogden has died at the age of 82. Today’s announcement was made in an email sent on behalf of Fenland District Council leader John Clark.

Mike Ogden

Mike Ogden - Credit: Archant

The octogenarian died in hospital last night after suffering a major stroke last Wednesday.

Mr Ogden, who is believed to have been the longest serving Cambridgeshire County Councillor ever, was well-known in the town having worked as a chartered surveyor with family firm Kirk Ogden for more than 50 years after joining the company in 1956.

He was elected to the county council in 1972, at the time of his election he was governor at seven Fenland schools including the Isle College at Wisbech, and Hereward and Westwood Schools in March.

He was forced to reduce the number of governing bodies he sat on to four and finally two but he continued to serve at the Neale-Wade Community College until the summer of 2012, notching up nearly 50 years of service including helping the school to fight its way out of special measures.

Mike Ogden

Mike Ogden - Credit: Archant

At the time of his retirement as governor Mr Ogden said he was “pleased and proud” to have been a governor at the school since 1965 during its turbulent journey from grammar school and high school to a comprehensive.

In fact Mr Ogden’s association with the school went back still further as an “old boy” of the grammar school and he was toast master for the annual reunion for many years, although he was planning to give up after this year’s event.

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Also in 2012 Mr Ogden called time on three decades with the Conservative Association March Branch, having served as secretary of the March Men’s Branch for almost 30 years.

He stood down as a councillor in 2009. He was made an Honorary Alderman by Cambridgeshire County Council for his long service to local government in the same year, following in the footsteps of both his father Kirk and grandfather Tom Parkinson Ogden, who also served in local government and were Aldermen.

In 2008 Mr Ogden announced he had sold off his land, which included the former auction rooms and indoor market to Cannon Kirk, with the hope of seeing the area developed.

He said at the time: “My bit accounts for some 33,000sq ft, which is around three-fifths of the overall site, and I believe Cannon Kirk is negotiating to buy the rest of it.”

His father Kirk Ogden bought the premises in 1929 shortly after qualifying as a chartered surveyor and opened it as a pig market with weekly sales that expanded into poultry, timber and vegetables from outlying small-holders.

Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the auctions flourished. However, there was declining interest during the early 1990s while the chartered surveyor’s business was growing and so the hammer fell for the last time in 1992.

Mr Ogden was among the local leaders who helped negotiate the siting of Whitemoor Prison in March and he was proud of his contribution claiming it had provided a huge boost to the town.

He enjoyed playing tennis in his younger days and still enjoyed following the sport on television, but his main hobby was local politics, which left little time for anything else.

Although he leaves a younger brother Richard, who emigrated to Thailand with his wife, Mr Ogden’s death is likely to see the end of a long tradition of Ogdens being buried in March as there are no other male Ogdens to carry on the family name.

His daughter Louise Fenlon explained: “There are no boys to carry on the Ogden name which is sad as we have ancestors going back to the 1640s buried in the cemetery at St Wendreda’s. Uncle Richard lives in Thailand so it is likely dad will be the last Ogden to be buried in March.”

Mrs Fenlon, who paid tribute to her father with her mother Anne, who married Mr Ogden at St George’s Church in Littleport in 1962, said: “I think dad will probably be best remembered for his distinctive auctioneer’s voice.”

Mrs Ogden added: “He lived a long and full life, he enjoyed his time in local politics and doing things to help the community. He was really proud when our grandson Toby was born, he was very pleased he was a boy.”

Mr Ogden was also a member of March Rotary Club for 40 years.

The Ogdens lost their younger daughter Clare two year’s ago at the age of 44.

Mr Ogden’s funeral will take place on Monday February 23 at 12.30pm at St Wendreda’s Church, followed by family interment.