|The close-knit community of Bude was stunned this week to hear of the sudden and unexpected passing of the well-loved and respected Stephen Rosser, perhaps best known for his volunteer Treasurer role with Bude Sea Pool.
Accountant Stephen, the husband of Deb and father of Mark and Helen, died suddenly while returning to his beloved Bude from the south-east where he had been recovering from an operation on his leg (a ruptured quadriceps tendon repair). Otherwise fit and healthy, he sadly died from a blood clot at a station on his way home.
Communities attract different kinds of activists. Some do the front of stage work, getting the message out, being the public face of organisations and causes, but equally importantly, some quietly do the background work, less obvious but vital in maintaining communities and organisations. Stephen’s accountancy skills were in high demand, skills which he used to do great good within our town, but whose influence extended far wider than Bude. Stephen was a man who helped hold his community together by quietly providing cohesion and balance.
Some people may still not know of Stephen for he wasn’t a ‘front man’, never shouting about all the hours he put in, often doing the ‘numbers stuff’ that doesn’t excite many of us but which is so essential to any accountable organisation. Communities need all sorts of people. Stephen’s way was to work quietly, often but not always behind the scenes with many organisations and groups, such as the Friends of Bude Sea Pool, and the Chamber of Commerce for whom he worked tirelessly. This, despite the fact he spent most of his time working in Essex, unable to live full-time in Bude, from where he also worked remotely. Stephen embraced Bude and Bude became his home, so he gave back to the community that had welcomed him and his family.
Hard to believe it is back in 2014 when noticing Stephen’s community presence despite him making no fuss or ado, I asked him the Bude & Beyond 10 Christmas Questions. He was very pleased with the late-night shopping evening in which he’d played a huge role and the Lantern Parade created by a local organisation, BAAM, all part of the festivities. He was immensely proud to have played a part in keeping the Sea Pool open despite the damage caused by the 2013 storms and was keen to see a regeneration of the beaches, with attractive new beach huts. That regeneration, of course, happened. Stephen noticed the little things that needed doing to help put Bude on the map and make it the town that it is. Not only did he notice, but he also set about actively creating the conditions for that to happen, through his work with Bude Chamber.
The most poignant part of re-reading Stephen’s answers was his comment that the best Christmas present of all would be: “To be able to live full time in Bude and not just one week in three”. That, I understand, was his plan for 2019, which sadly was denied him.
Why Bude? He loved the beach, the friendliness, the community spirit, and the people, where, as he said: “everybody seems to give everybody else the time of day”. He also had a fun side when attending community events. In 2017, I stood with Stephen and Deb getting soaked at Leopallooza; Stephen, as cheery as ever, never once complained about the incessant rain. A devoted family man, there was also a side that only those closest to him would see. In December 2018, Stephen and Deb had celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary. As Deb said: “Now I know why I married him. He was a very special person, my best friend”.
Stephen was on the list of all round ‘good guys’. His work will live on and Stephen’s legacy is in his children of whom he was very proud. Everyone in Bude who knew him was shocked and saddened by his death, and our thoughts go out to his wife, children and wider family and friends.
Bless you, Stephen, for you made your mark, you made a difference.