Tributes to former Thetford councillor Pat Balaam who was dedicated to the community

Pat Balaam.

Pat Balaam. - Credit: ©EDPpics 2006

Tributes have been paid to a community-minded man who was involved in a host of Thetford groups.

Former Thetford and Breckland Labour councillor Pat Balaam, who represented Saxon Ward for 12 years, died on Thursday while heading home from the Laburnum Grove Support Group which he attended three times a week. He was 77.

The grandfather-of-two had lived in Thetford for more than 40 years and, alongside his council work, was a school governor, member of Barnham Action Group and a former manager of Thetford Rovers FC.

He had two daughters, Jennifer and Christine, and two grandchildren, Matty and Sophie. Daughter Christine said: 'Dad was a great man, passionate about his beliefs and, as you can see, dedicated to the community spirit of Thetford.'

Mr Balaam left the council in 2011 and celebrated his golden wedding anniversary with his wife Diana on March 30 this year.

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He was a founding member of the Sunday football league and a referee in the 1970s, caretaker of Two Mile Bottom Scouts' campsite in the 1980s, a member of Thetford Festival club and a member of Barnham and Staniforth Bowls Club. He was also a governor of Redcastle and Queensway junior schools.

Barbara Bysouth, who knew Mr Balaam through her work as a governor at Queensway Junior School, said: 'He was extremely community-minded. He was calm and always had a good laugh and was always around the town. He was very hands-on.'

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Thetford mayor Stuart Wright said: 'I respected his work very much. He was a community man and quietly got on doing a lot of work for his community.'

Councillor Terry Jermy said: 'He was very kind. He was chairman of the residents' group and every month he was there and was on the phone to Breckland trying to get things done.'

Derek Mortimer, town councillor for Guildhall Ward, said: 'He was an outstanding ward councillor and served his community in the most conscientious and devoted manner.

'His consuming passion outside local politics was his allotment. The inability to maintain it after his initial illness was his greatest sadness. Having sat beside Pat through those 12 years of council business I feel qualified to say that he worked for the good of the public and was an example to other councillors past, present and in the future.

'A good old Norfolk boy, he will be sadly missed.'

The funeral service will take place on Tuesday, July 16 at St Cuthbert's Church followed by burial at Thetford Cemetery.

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