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Civic-minded and practical legacy

Civic-minded and practical legacy

Civic-mindedness ran in the family for Ashburton local Leslie John Leadley - who in typical farmer fashion, preferred to avoid the spotlight.

The former deputy mayor and longstanding district councillor, known for holding his own opinions, died in Ashburton Hospital on New Year's Eve at the age of 83.

Known locally as John, Leadley spent his life in Ashburton and devoted a lot of time and effort to making the district a better place to live.

As a young man, he ran a shearing business with his cousin and farmed mixed crops and sheep on the family farm in Wakanui.

Leadley married his wife, Lynette, on March 16, 1963. They have two children, Heather and Paul, and eight grandchildren.

Family friend and fellow farmer Andrew Brown said Leadley was good farmer who worked hard for his family and the district.

He was one of the first farmers in the area to use irrigation and was a good steward of the land.

“He was his own man. He had his own opinions and he held them."

He put a lot of work into the council and could run a good meeting, Brown said.

The Leadleys, right back to John's grandfather, were community-minded.

"Civic-mindedness runs in the family," he said.

Leadley rose through the ranks of Young Farmers and then Federated Farmers.

He was secretary and chairman of both local groups and went on to be part of the provincial executive of Federated Farmers.

He was a strong debater and got involved in Toastmasters and the local Rotarians and was president of the Ashburton Rotary Club in 2014-15.

Leadley was part of the Ashburton branch of the New Zealand Heart Foundation, including three years on the national executive, as well as an active member of the Museum and Historical Society.

He was also a singer and member of the St David’s choir and helped out at the Tinwald Pony Club, Brown said.

Leadley spent almost a quarter century in local government, serving as a County Councillor for the Wakanui Ward from 1986 to 1989 and then on the Ashburton District Council from 1989 - 1992 and again from 1995 - 2013. He was deputy mayor from 1998 - 2010.

He was also involved with Safer Mid Canterbury for over two decades, a trustee for the Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust, and wrote a monthly column for the Rural Guardian for a period.

Past councillor and former deputy mayor Darryl Nelson, who spent 15 years on the local council with Leadley and remained in touch afterward, remembers him as a "practical sort of fellow" with great common sense.

"He came up with solutions that didn't cost too much and tried to get practical solutions in the budget."

Nelson remembers Leadley questioning the practicality of proposed work and "keeping people on their toes" with good questions.

'He was good, practical and honest - someone you could rely on."

Nelson recalls Leadley used to say he had the letters QBE after his name.

It was one of his regular sayings and stands for 'qualified by experience', he said.

Ashburton mayor Neil Brown said Leadley was very knowledgeable and was both liked and respected by his peers.

Brown worked with Leadley on the council from 2004 to 2013 and continued a close friendship with him after that.

"He was a great community-minded person who worked to do the best for the community."

Leadley was awarded the Mayor's Award for Public Service, the highest civic honour bestowed by the council, in 2017

Brown said some of the standout features of Leadley's career included chairing the $17-million wastewater upgrade and the first-ever district plan over 42 days of hearings.

"It was a big thing to do at the time," Brown said.

By Sharon Davis