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‘The heartbeat of Southwold’ - tributes paid after death of councillor Sue Allen

PUBLISHED: 10:54 03 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:54 03 May 2018

Sue Allen, former Southwold town mayor and long serving councillor who died suddenly. Picture: Courtesy of the family of Sue Allen

Sue Allen, former Southwold town mayor and long serving councillor who died suddenly. Picture: Courtesy of the family of Sue Allen

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Touching tributes have been paid to a long-serving councillor, who played a prominent role in the community and will be “deeply missed.”

Sue Allen, former Southwold town mayor and long serving councillor, who died suddenly. Sue is pictured with her three daughters Lisa, Vanessa and Melissa and her partner, Philip Palmer. Picture: Courtesy of the family of Sue AllenSue Allen, former Southwold town mayor and long serving councillor, who died suddenly. Sue is pictured with her three daughters Lisa, Vanessa and Melissa and her partner, Philip Palmer. Picture: Courtesy of the family of Sue Allen

Flags will be flown at half mast at Waveney District Council’s Riverside offices and at Southwold Town Hall following the sudden death of Sue Allen.

Mrs Allen, 78, has been described by family and friends as the “heartbeat of Southwold” which stopped on Monday with her sudden death.

A family statement said: “Sue Allen will be remembered as an exceptional lady whose life was almost entirely spent busy for the good of others. Sue enjoyed the good things in life and had impeccable taste.

“She took her roles very seriously and worked tirelessly for the local community. Amongst her achievements she successfully pushed for major funding to rebuild the Southwold Harbour walls, negotiated the development of affordable housing projects and raised extensive funding for Southwold Christmas lights.”

In a statement, Waveney District Council said it was “deeply saddened” by the news.

A council spokesman said: “Sue had served the council as ward member for Southwold and Reydon for 14 years, which also included eight years as cabinet member for housing and a two-year spell as chairman of the council. She served on a number of committees and partner bodies and was a hugely dedicated and popular public servant, who was particularly loved in her home town of Southwold, where she also served two terms as town mayor.”

Paying tribute, Waveney leader Mark Bee, said: “I am both shocked and incredibly saddened to learn of Sue’s passing. She was an absolutely wonderful person; caring, generous and entirely committed to public service in Southwold and the wider district.

“She gave everything to seeking better outcomes for local people and communities and she will be deeply missed by everyone who ever knew or worked with her. She was both a good friend and an utterly professional councillor who genuinely sought to improve the lives of others and it will take some time to come to terms with this terrible news.”

Southwold mayor Matthew Horwood added: “In Sue we have lost a town councillor and district councillor who always put the town of Southwold first, to try and get the best for the town locally and across Suffolk.”

Family statement

Born in Kent in 1939 Sue spent her early life between Kensington and Walberswick where her parents had a holiday house. From the age of nine she attended St Felix School for girls.

Her family said: “While living in Walberswick, Sue at a young age, was introduced to horses which then became a lifelong passion.”

After leaving school she decided Oxford University wasn’t for her and went to work at Fortnum and Masons, then completed Secretarial and Cordon Bleu cookery courses in London, as was the fashion in those days.

Her family said: “Sue was very on trend and loved being fashionable all her life. After enjoying au pair life in the South of France, Sue then commenced her dream job of working at the BBC, a vibrant happening place where she began working in radio before moving into the television centre. Here she was PA to Rex Morphet, Head of Presentations, and was involved in broadcasts such as Winston Churchill’s funeral as well as the first live outside transatlantic television broadcast liaising between the two countries.

“During her time at the BBC she was able to fuel her love of horses by helping set up the BBC riding club and volunteered for the Riding for Disabled Centre, probably the first time she began working on projects for the benefit of those around her.”

While at the BBC she met set designer Paul Allen, husband and father of their three daughters and they lived in Surrey often travelling to the South of France on holidays and enjoying trips to Newmarket, Ascot and Longchamp for horse racing. They relocated to Reydon in the 1970s, where her love of horses became a business as she established an Appaloosa Horse Stud and later they moved to Dunwich Forest to open a trekking centre.

The family said: “As the girls grew older Sue spent most of her weekends actively supporting her girls with their hobbies, either at Pony Club events or on the River Blyth sailing.

“In Southwold Sue and Paul had an antique shop and a hairdressers and after her separation from Paul she ran a B&B on the seafront and in 1993 opened the successful Fishmonger and Delicatessen, Fish & Fayre with her partner, Philip Palmer.

“At this point Sue also became involved with various local community committees and projects from Southwold & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce to the Waveney Harriers Pony Club.”

Having joined Southwold Town Council Sue went onto become Town Mayor in 2003 and again in 2010. Sue was elected a member of Waveney District Council becoming Chairman in 2005.

Her family added: “Sue very much enjoyed travelling and over the recent years particular enjoyed visits to The Gambia and Tuscany. Sue more recently represented outside bodies including Southwold Harbour and River Blyth Estuary Users Association, Suffolk Coast and Heaths Project, East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board and James Paget University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Governors Council.”

Tributes paid

Stephen Baker, chief executive of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Council said: “This is very sad news which I know will upset many staff considerably. Speaking personally, it has been an absolute pleasure to work closely with Sue at Waveney for over a decade. She was an outstanding and effective cabinet member as well as a thoughtful and community-focused chairman.

“She was universally liked and played a lead role in a number of initiatives that have improved Waveney District Council and helped the people we serve. Sue’s focus and commitment to getting things done was second to none, and staff found her to be engaging, yet purposeful, and her humour and sense of mischief was so endearing. All our thoughts are with Sue’s family and friends at this tragic time.”

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