New Town Reeve appointed in Bungay

JOHN Warnes was installed this week as the new holder of the unique and ancient office of Town Reeve of Bungay.

By long-standing tradition he was chosen by the outgoing Town Reeve, Roger Allen – and he completes a rare double in taking office. His wife, Betty, was Reeve in 1998 and it is only the second time in the 1000-year history of the office that a husband and wife have held it.

The only other couple were Michael Belcher (in 1977) and his late wife, Diana (in 1993 and 2004).

And there is another family link for Mr Warnes, who is 76 and a retired agricultural merchant who lives at Beccles Road, Bungay. His father, Cecil Warnes, was Town Reeve in 1948 – making it the first family triple in the long history of the role.

The Town Reeve heads Bungay Town Trust, of which Mr Warnes, a former mayor of Bungay, was elected a foundation feoffee (trustee) in 2009. Now he is looking forward to a year of office in 2012, Olympic year and the year of the Queen's diamond jubilee.

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'I am pleased to take on the role, and honoured to do it,' he said this week. 'If you take on the job of feoffee you have to be prepared to take it on at some stage.'

Although only a recent feoffee, he had been asked over many years to join the Town Trust, but he said: 'You have to be able to give the proper time to it, and only recently has that been possible for me. It would be silly to take it on if you could not do that.'

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Mr Warnes, who married in 1965 and has a son and a daughter and grandchildren, said he was looking forward to a good year, which would include the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the annual Bungay festival, and the 2012 Olympics.

'It would also be nice to think that it will also see a start on the building of the town's new community centre, though the Town Trust has no direct involvement in that,' he said.

During his year of office he plans to support the children's playpark project, which is to be provided at the old grammar school field alongside the new community centre, though the playpark may be provided first.

'There is a good chance that that will start in 2012,' Mr Warnes said.

Born in Bungay, he went to school there, and naturally moved into the family business which his grandfather, who moved to the town in 1898, started and his father continued. The family had a corn, seed and pet shop in the Market Place for many years (it is still there, under new ownership) and for many years they had a similar business in Southwold.

Mr Warnes has many interests. He is a member of the parochial church council, and chairman of Bungay Choral Society, of which he is a long-standing member. He is a town councillor and was mayor in 2009-10, is chairman of the Bungay Common Owners, treasurer of the Bungay Festival Committee and of the Christmas lights committee.

He was an active member of Bungay Chamber of Trade for many years, and his wife, Betty, was president of the chairman for three years.Mr Allen installed Mr Warnes with the robes and chain of office at the annual Town Meeting at the Chaucer Club Tuesday night.

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