Sprowston Town Councillor may be 91 – but he still loves politics

Could John Bracey be Norfolk's oldest councillor? At 91 - he's just been re-elected at Sprowston Tow

Could John Bracey be Norfolk's oldest councillor? At 91 - he's just been re-elected at Sprowston Town Council for another 4 years.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

It is often bemoaned that politicians are getting younger and have no experience of life in wider society.

So Sprowston town councillor John Bracey could teach them a thing or two as he approaches his 92nd birthday later this month.

The grandfather-of-three was re-elected to serve the town he has lived in for 56 years last month, with the second largest vote count in the area.

And despite his senior years – towering above the likes of prime minister David Cameron who is 48, 33-year-old Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and the country's youngest MP since 1667, Mhairi Black – the former technology teacher of Rangoon Close, Sprowston, says there is no chance of giving up his town role any time soon.

'I just don't feel my age,' he said. 'But when I tell people how old I am they think 'that poor old chap' and want to offer me assistance. People react to age if you tell them how old you are – so I don't tell anyone any more.'

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Mr Bracey first become involved with Sprowston Town Council by accident when, in 1991, a neighbour persuaded him to run as a Conservative candidate.

He was unsure of the prospect, but after the first meeting, he was hooked.

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'After that I was bitten by the bug, and that was that,' he said.

'And I have continued as a councillor, off and on, ever since, because I am passionate about issues in the area.

'Being a councillor is about getting yourself well known. If you don't get about, meeting people, then you are simply not doing your job.

'I've kept a part of Sprowston Town Council because I don't want to just creep back into my house and when I die people say 'oh I remember him'.'

Mr Bracey, a former RAF flight engineer on Lancaster Bombers, taught at Sprowston and Hewett High Schools, and knows almost everybody in the neighbourhood.

In 2011 he became a Broadland District Councillor, eventually holding the position of vice chair until he stood down this May.

During his time at Broadland and Sprowston, an issue Mr Bracey became passionate about was the provision of care and activities for older people in communities.

Since his late wife Gweneth became ill with Alzheimer's, and he started caring for her, Mr Bracey, current chairman of Broadland Older People's Partnership, has made it his mission to provide support for others.

'I have had a special interest in dementia ever since I attended an Alzheimer's meeting for my wife,' he said.

'I've wanted to stay at the town council because of the interest I have in older people and increasing awareness about their needs.

'I feel they have been neglected, and are still being neglected, and there's a lot to be done.'

Do you have a story about the Broadland area? Contact Rosa McMahon on 01603 772453.

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