Labour Lives: No 6 JIM MUNN

Jim Munn 1957-2021

Just before Christmas 2021 former Labour Councillor Jim Munn died. Jim was councillor for the old Sydenham ward from 2003 until 2011, winning 2 elections there. He was also on the first Bridgwater Town Council. In recent years he worked for Royal Mail and was a  CWU Rep from 1990 to 2007. Jim was the son of Bill and Mary Munn. Bill Munn was twice Labour Mayor of Bridgwater and Jim was Deputy Mayor one year but the first one in living memory to turn down the offer of actually being Mayor. Jim was also in the Royal Navy which included time in the Falklands war back in 1982  as a leading seaman on HMS Broadsword. He specialized in radar and shared a mess with a group of 4 Bridgwater lads on that ship. His Funeral on 17 December was so well attended that the queues stretched around the Crematorium building.

Jim’s sister Heather spoke on the day about her brother and we include that eulogy in full below.

Jim Munn-a Somerset Scot-with grandson Josh

My big Brother James Rendell Munn was born in the Mary Stanley’s maternity hospital in Bridgwater on the 25th of September 1957, his middle name following the Scotts tradition of the oldest son having their mother’s maiden name.

I have often said we were the most Scottish children to ever grow up in Somerset. Our dad, who was from Paisley, just outside Glasgow, was ferociously proud of his heritage and he instilled in all of us a deep love of his homeland as well as a pride in the green hills of Somerset.

When they were small James, and our brother Andrew wore kilts to family gatherings, which even in the 1960’S was a hard look to carry off in Bridgwater. 

James was his mother’s green-eyed boy; it would be fair to say she adored him. He went to St Margaret’s and then St Matthews school, his secondary education was at Chilton Trinity and he seemed to spend a lot of time on Exmoor at the Pinkery outdoor center, building canoes out of fiberglass and hiking miles in the mud, which he appeared to love.  

James was a keen swimmer and Monday evenings in the summertime were spent at the lido with the Bridgwater swimming club, he was also an active member of the sea cadets 

Our childhood holidays were spent in Cornwall , on the beach, where James would get the most amazing tan, swim, surf and use our brother Andrew to find out how deep harbors and rock pools were, by getting him to jump or dive in first, and if Andrew survived James would follow.

Navy Days

James joined the Royal Navy at 16, in the days before mobile phones, communication with us at home was in the form of blue airmail letters and calls from phone boxes with the pips announcing when another 2 pence coin was needed to pay for the next few minutes.

The advertising slogan at the time was join the navy and see the world, and James certainly did, tours around the Med, Scandinavia, the USA and Far east. He spent a year in Hong Kong which he very much enjoyed, When James was home on leave, we would have a series of callers, of his pals and lots of gals who would pop in to visit. One girl who particularly caught his eye was Vanessa Bigwood, who became his wife in 1981  

Jim on HMS Broadsword

James served in the Falklands war, which like so many veterans he did not really speak about in any detail, but he did tell us about the Exocet missile that went through the deck of the HMS Broadsword And out the other side, not encountering anything hard enough to make it explode.  

James and Vanessa had two children Joanne in 1982 and William in 1984, their relationship with each other was not to last. The children stayed with their dad and James embarked on a new posting that of singe father, with support from our Mum and his long-time lodger Sam.  

James met Julie Temlett , in 192 ;A bit like the Brady bunch  she  was bring up two children of her own, Jade and Jake and together they made a new blended family. These were happy, busy years for the couple, with camping trips and at one point driving around in the most inappropriately painted camper van in the west! 

After 15 years together Jim proposed to Julie on the way top of Ben Nevis when they were on a charity walk, .and they were married in 2007

Socialist Ideals

While working as a postman James become heavily involved with the Communication Workers Union. I would say James was a socialist not because of any hard politically orthodoxy but because he was a good man and who believed in equality and that everyone should as the Australians say, “get a fair shake of the sauce bottle”,

He wanted a good life for himself, his family and for wider society. James served his community as a Bridgwater town and Sedgemoor district councilor for 8 years, representing Sydenham ward. He was  also deputy Mayor.

James took redundancy from the post office and segued into a very different role, working for his friend Nick Bradbury in a residential centre for with adults with learning difficulties. He spoke about the challenges and joys of this role with great humour and affection.

James became a proud Grandad in 2006 With the arrival of Joanne’s son Joshua, shortly followed by Jack and Poppy. William also has three children Freddy, Tommy, and Harper and most recently Jake has become a father with the arrival of Remy. James loved a baby, and his expansive chest offered a great sleeping place for a little one. I sometimes wonder that if we had lived in less sexist times whether James might have followed his mother into the world of small children and the nursery rather than following his father footsteps and going to sea.

Jim in later years

One constant in James’s life was his love of rugby, from school onwards his devotion to the game played with odd, shaped balls was unswerving. I am told that he played in all sorts of positions, but his favourite was number 8.

From my research on the internet, I understand that the –The 8th man is of huge importance to any team, if he is a good reader of the game and has strength and power, he will have an impact and be a key decision-maker.

In terms of the characteristics of the 8th man. He should not be selfish, he needs to see himself as the player who sets up the try scoring opportunities for others., he must work like a Trojan around the park and should give absolutely everything to the team, when he gets things right the team normally does well

A Good Bloke

Reading the comments on Facebook and Looking around at all the faces here today of his teammates in various forms, whether that is his Family, his friends, his ship mates, or workmates I think that he brought these characteristics into his day-to-day life as well.

The author Terry Pratchett said that “no one is actually dead until the ripples they caused in the world die away…”

We will see James’s influence in the genes that go marching on, in the role model of how to be a father, husband, friend and a good bloke,

So please remember and talk about James, Jim, Jimmer Jimbo, Jimmy Bean, remember him when you are kicking an odd, shaped ball or raising a pint to your lips.

Here’s to you big brother

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2 years ago

Took my breath away. Just beautiful. Xx

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