Tributes to former Norwich Lord Mayor and school governor

Keith Ratcliffe greeting the people of Norwich during the Lord Mayor's procession from his time in the post 

Keith Ratcliffe greeting the people of Norwich during the Lord Mayor's procession from his time in the post - Credit: Archant

A former Norwich Lord Mayor who took on a number of voluntary roles in the city has passed away at the age of 83. 

Keith Ratcliffe, who served as Lord Mayor of Norwich in 2001-02, died on February 19, with a funeral service to take place at GreenAcres, Colney, on April 1. 

Born in Harrow Weald, London, in 1937, Mr Ratcliffe worked as a teacher with his final job being director of education for the London Borough of Redbridge, before moving to Bracondale in Norfolk in 1994 on his retirement. 

Mr Ratcliffe was a city councillor for the Lakenham ward from 1996 to 2002, as well as being governor of Taverham High School from 1995 to 2016. 

Keith Ratcliffe turns on the Christmas tree lights during a special schools' carol service in Norwich Cathedral in...

Keith Ratcliffe turns on the Christmas tree lights during a special schools' carol service in Norwich Cathedral in December 2001 during his time as Lord Mayor of Norwich - Credit: Archant

His daughter Julia described Mr Ratcliffe as a "very modest man", and she had become aware of the full extent of his achievements when going through his paperwork. 

Mr Ratcliffe was a council nominee to become governor of both City College Norwich and the University of East Anglia, while he also served as governor of Lakenham First School from 1997 to 2005, with one year as chairman in 2004. 

He was also governor of Edith Cavell Academy from 2012 to 2014, and he was a director and trustee of the Norfolk Law Society. 

Keith Ratcliffe inspects the Guard of Honour from RAF Coltishall for Battle of Britain Week in September 2001 when he was...

Keith Ratcliffe inspects the Guard of Honour from RAF Coltishall for Battle of Britain Week in September 2001 - Credit: Archant

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His array of post-retirement community roles also included being honorary treasurer and secretary of Burlingham House care home from 1995 to 2008, as well as serving as the director of the Tie Break theatre education charity for nine years. 

The family said Mr Ratcliffe "immensely enjoyed" his year as Lord Mayor as he represented a city he loved, while being able to promote causes he was passionate about, and meeting many interesting people. 

Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters said: “Keith was a very committed and effective city councillor, representing Lakenham Ward.

“He brought to local government his experience as a former chief education officer. His advice was highly valued, and he worked very hard on behalf of his constituents and the city.  

“Keith was an excellent Lord Mayor and was ably supported by his wife Joan as Lady Mayoress. He will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.”

The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Keith Ratcliffe gets off the Steam train called The Cathedral Express as

Former Lord Mayor of Norwich Keith Ratcliffe has passed away - Credit: Archant

Councillor Patrick Manning, who currently represents Lakenham, will be paying tribute to Mr Ratcliffe at the city council's next meeting on March 16, which takes place on Zoom at 6.30pm. 

Mr Ratcliffe graduated from University College Durham with a BA in Modern History in 1958 followed by his Masters and teaching diploma in 1961.

Having retired at the age of 56 in 1993, Mr Ratcliffe and his wife developed a strong interest in Tibetan culture through their travels. This led to continued support for the Tibet Society and Tibet Relief Fund. 

The family said Mr Ratcliffe maintained strong links to the local Labour party throughout his retirement, and he also volunteered at his local Oxfam bookshop.

Mr Ratcliffe was also a regular at the Norwich Theatre Royal and Norfolk Festival's orchestral concerts. 

Lord Mayor Keith Ratcliffe at the launch of the new booklet "Norwich - Diverse City".Photo: Bill S

Keith Ratcliffe at the launch of the new booklet "Norwich - Diverse City" in February 2002 during his time as Lord Mayor - Credit: Sharon Page/Archant

His life-long passions of history, politics and culture were fuelled by his father George Ratcliffe buying him an old history book from a second-hand stall while his son was at primary school. 

Mr Ratcliffe was also a fellow of the British Institute of Management from 1985, a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce from 1984, and a fellow of the Durham University Society. 

Lord Mayor of Norwich, Keith Ratcliffe with the newly refurbished Waterloo Park Pavilion in the back

Keith Ratcliffe pictured with the Waterloo Park Pavilion after it had been newly refurbished in February 2002 - Credit: Archant

He leaves behind his wife Joan, five daughters Eleanor, Katie, Carey, Julia and Maggie, as well as three grandchildren. 

As part of his funeral service on April 1, donations are being accepted to the Trussell Trust Norwich Foodbank via an online tribute page at keithratcliffe.muchloved.com. 

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