Tributes to popular Scarborough fireman and campaigner

Jeff Brook-Smith
Jeff Brook-Smith

Tributes have been paid to ‘kind and strong minded’ Scarborough man Jeff Brook-Smith.

Originally from Kent, he was well known for his anti-fluoride water campaign, sand drawings and fire service awards.

Jeff pictured on Spa Bridge with the sand mural in the background in 1993

Jeff pictured on Spa Bridge with the sand mural in the background in 1993

Jeff was a fireman and his daughter, Joanne Watson, said: “It was something he wanted to do as a child.”

During his working life, he received top professional honours for catching a hoax caller and a long service award, retiring two years later than an average fireman.

The anti-fluoride campaign in the 1990s, that Jeff led, gathered a lot of attention in the town.

As a commercial artist by trade, protester Jeff regularly took to the sands to illustrate his opposition to the plan to add fluoride to tap water in Yorkshire.

His son, John Brook-Smith, also helped his father on his drawings but “only the shading” as Jeff was a “perfectionist” in his work.

Some of his artwork, taking between four and six hours, also hit the national press and is still being reproduced today.

A close friend of Jeff’s said that he didn’t know anyone who was in the local press for “mad stuff” more than him.

After finally retiring Jeff “always had a project” and regularly made wooden gifts and boxes.

His partner, Janet Shipley, laughed saying: “I even have liquorice allsorts and mince pie key rings, all made of wood.”

Jeff fell ill in 2011 but his “determination to live amazed doctors” and “he simply refused to give in.”

His son, John, said: “The only thing that seemed to worry him during his treatment was possibly losing his signature moustache”.

Although he “bounced back from treatment” for cancer, he lost his battle aged 72.

John added: “What first seemed like the simple task of paying homage to one man, quickly became the impossible task of summing up a character like Jeff Brook-Smith.

“I’ll mourn the loss of my father whist knowing that Jeff will be sorely missed by many.

“It’s all our stories that keep him with us. I’d ask you all to think of your stories with Jeff in whatever guise you knew him.”