Stalwart Leamington Society member to stand down from committee after helping to make the town 'a better place for us all' over nearly two decades

Archie Pitts will be on the society's committee for the last time at its online AGM next Thursday (May 13) and members have paid tribute to his work since he joined in 2002

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 1:11 pm
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 2:22 pm
The winners of the Leamington Legends Awards - Archie and Marianne Pitts, with Stephanie Kerr (Executive Director - BID Leamington). Photo by Sally Evans Photography.

Members of the Leamington Society have paid tribute to Archie Pitts who next week will stand down from the position he has held on the group's committee for 19 years.

The society, which has the overall aim of 'protecting the character of Leamington' has played an important part in several prominent improvement projects during the time in which Archie, 81, was its chairman between 2004 to 2010 and a committee member in the years after these.

And with the online AGM on Thursday being Archie's final meeting as a committee member, others in the society have highlighted the important role he has played for the group over the years.

Archie Pitts cuts the ribbon for the refurbished bandstand at the Pump Room Gardens in Leamington.

Sidney Syson, the society's current chairwoman, said: "We as a Society are hugely indebted to Archie for his vision, his wisdom, his ability to raise money for projects, his stickability and for the time he has so generously given to this society and to Royal Leamington Spa.

"Each time you see the Linden Arches, the Bandstand and the Pump Room Gardens think gratefully of him and his determination to make Royal Leamington Spa a better place for us all.

"Thank you Archie."

Archie, a former lecturer at Warwick Business School, became a committee member for the society around August 2002 when several members resigned due to a split in the society over the future of the Regent Hotel in the Parade.

At the time a plans were afoot to demolish part of the historic and grand hotel building to make way for the Travel Lodge, which is there now.

Some members wanted to continue to oppose the project while others felt the plans should be accepted.

Archie was among the former group.

He became the society's vice chairman in 2003.

During his time with the society Archie has also been the chairman of the Friends of Leamington Station from its early days in 2003 and 2004 right up to now.

For the group, Archie helped to raise more than £70,000 which paid for the landscaping and upkeep of the station gardens, the war memorial, the GWR benches, the running in boards and booking hall clock.

In 2008, Archie became the chairman of the newly-formed Friends of the Pump Room Gardens group.

He helped to raise £200,000 for the friends group and improvements to the gardens have included he refurbishment of the bandstand and replacement of the Linden Arches in 2012.

Archie was instrumental in helping Warwick District Council gain Heritage Lottery Funding for the restoration of the Pump Room Gardens in 2015 and only last year handed over the chairmanship to Ian Bradbury.

Sidney said: "The restoration was not without severe problems and it was thanks to Archie’s unswerving persistence that we have the result we have today."

Over the years Archie and the society have also opposed some controversial plans for the town centre.

These have included proposals to build a new shopping centre on the site of the Chandos Street car park and plans to build a new headquarters for Warwick District Council on the Covent Garden car park site.

To date, neither set of proposals have proceeded past the planning stages.

Since 2004 Archie and his wife Marianne, who was also a lecturer at Warwick Business School, have produced the Leamington Society's newsletter and he also ran its awards from 2004 to 2012.

In 2019, the couple received a Leamington Legend Award from BID Leamington to recognise and express gratitude for the special contribution that they have made to Leamington over many years.Archie said: "Through these activities, Marianne and I have met many people whom it has been a real pleasure to work with, and who have gone on to become good friends.

"None of what we have achieved would have been possible without their support.

"Marianne and I are delighted to have been involved with so much in our town.”