Monday, 26 October 2015

A Local Hero: RIP Mitch Couriard

Mitch Couriard died last week. He was very much a “local hero”, and one who brought out the better side of society, of being an example of service to the community in a really genuine manner.

He originally qualified as an electrician, but after a number of years of voluntary service with the Jersey Youth Service and took a position at the Department of Education. He was one of Jersey's torchbearers in the 2012 Summer Olympics torch relay.

Couriard was a member of the Honorary Police having been elected to serve as a Vingtenier for the Vingtaine du Mont à l'Abbé in Saint Helier, Jersey. He was also president of the Honorary Police Association.

His "beat" included Victoria Avenue, meaning that he was delegated to manage policing for the annual Battle of Flowers held in August - an event that continues to attract crowds of 10,000 or more. As such he was one of the most visible members of the island's Honorary Police. He was awarded membership of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's birthday honours list of June 2002 jointly for his services as a civil servant and his honorary work.

On 18 August 2015, Mitch married his second wife Kaye Temple at Southampton Hospital. Couriard died of cancer, aged 61, at the Jersey Hospice on 23 October 2015.

Education minister, Deputy Rod Bryans said: "I arrived in Jersey in 1976 and if I were asked to recall three most distinctive characters that sum up Jersey Mitch Couriard would be one I would immediately call to mind.

"He was always there. All of us have experienced turning up at a junction on a dark wet night to be pointed in the right direction by Mitch. I think the whole island owes him a debt of gratitude."

“A big man with a big heart who just seemed to be everywhere. Whether it was Battle of Flowers, Jersey Live, or just manning a road on a cold night, Mitch's passion to help people made sure he was always there.”

“His tireless, compassionate work with the Youth Service had a profound effect on all of those people who met him.”

“Today people openly wept in the Education department. It showed the deep respect they held for him and how much they were affected by his loss.”

Danny Scaife, the current president of the Jersey Honorary Police Association, said: "It is very sad news for the honorary police in St Helier, for all the people that worked with him and for the island because of all the years he gave in service. Even if they didn't know him perfectly, everybody knew something about Mitch, they instantly recognised him. It is a massive loss to island life as he is somebody who can't be replaced."

Principal Youth Officer Mark Capern paid tribute to his colleague “This is a very sad day for the Youth Service. Mitch gave over 40 years’ service and had an impact on so many young people. He was passionate about the youth service and the positive impact it could have. One of the projects he was most proud of was the development of Crabbe because of the unique opportunities it offered young people. So many islanders will have fond memories of Mitch as they were growing up. We will miss him very much.”

The Portrait

Each year Jersey Heritage chooses a well-known Islander to immortalise and this year the panel chose the above well-known face.

With his signature bushy black beard, Mitch Couriard was a well known 'face' of Jersey, working as a Vingtenier with the St Helier Honorary Police. The artist who undertook this portrait commission is former television show artist, judge and author of 'Take Art', Christian Furr. Furr's recent portraits include Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor for Westminster Cathedral and British tennis ace Tim Henman.

The portrait was unveiled at Jersey's Museum on 2nd May 2013.

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