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Tributes after death of remarkable long-serving GP who ‘felt laughter was the best medicine’

Former East Harling GP Paul Jonason. Picture: COURTESY OF LYDIA FREEMAN

Former East Harling GP Paul Jonason. Picture: COURTESY OF LYDIA FREEMAN

Archant

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a popular village GP who “felt laughter was the best medicine” for his patients during 50 years of remarkable community service.

If you were born in East Harling any time from the 1950s to the 1990s, it is likely you have its resident GP Paul Jonason to thank for your health.

Dr Jonason - who died aged 97 in March - came to the county after marrying his wife Elizabeth in 1949, when they were looking for a GP practice where they could settle.

The great grandfather of 14 became a GP as a way of fulfilling his ambition to serve in the army, as being a child of two foreign nationals – as well as being colour-blind – disqualified him from serving as a soldier.

Having helped wounded servicemen during the Second World War and then worked as a locum doctor in the Midlands, his daughter Lydia Freeman said: “He and my mother looked for somewhere to practise medicine together outside of London.”

They settled for East Harling and were so impressed with the village near Thetford that they paid £2,000 over the asking price – a huge amount of money in the 1950s – for their new surgery.

“They absolutely loved being here,” said Ms Freeman. “They worked 24-seven. People have been saying the most amazing things about them.

“He was a very, very good doctor. Often he could diagnose something that would take lots of tests today.

“He was also very funny and entertaining. He was wonderful with people – he felt that laughter was the best medicine.

“He was very strict about medication – he wanted people to never take more than they needed and always get it right. He was very clear about he diagnosed.

“He was very strict with women who were expecting a baby, telling them to walk two miles a day.”

Dr Jonason, who also had eight grandchildren, was later even given the freedom of East Harling in recognition of his years of service to the village.

A service for Dr Jonason, who was also a keen sailor and a member Aldeburgh Yacht Club, was held at East Harling church on Friday, April 6 at 2.30pm.

He is survived by children Peter Jonason, Olivia Hoolahan and Lydia Freeman.

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