Tributes to 'fiery politician' and ex-Lord Mayor of Norwich

Roy Durrant when he was Lord Mayor of Norwich in 1993-94.

Roy Durrant when he was Lord Mayor of Norwich in 1993-94. - Credit: Supplied by the Durrant family

Tributes have been paid to a hard-working former Lord Mayor of Norwich who was described as a "fiery politician".

Roy Durrant, 89, from Leas Court, Norwich, who was born and bred in the city, was given the mayoral chain from 1993-94.

He was also elected as Labour councillor on Norwich City Council for the Town Close ward in 1967.

Mr Durrant, who was passionate about animals and gardening, stood on the city council for the Labour Party until 1994 for various wards including Lakenham and Wessex where he got his biggest win, according to his wife Joyce, whom he married in 1982.

She said: "He took the role of mayor as a great honour. He threw himself into it wholeheartedly.

"He gave his all to his work. He was a fiery politician. He was a tremendous personality and did tremendous speeches."

Roy Durrant aged 18 after joining the navy in 1949.

Roy Durrant aged 18 after joining the naval fleet air am in 1949. - Credit: Supplied by the Durrant family

At a meeting of Norwich City Council, Keith Driver, current city councillor for the Lakenham ward, said: "He was a councillor with my father and I remember when sitting in the chamber every time one of them would speak everybody would call them the Lakenham trouble-makers.

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"I knew him since I was six years old and called him a friend all my life. We kept in touch and I last saw him around six months ago.

"He loved Norwich City Football Club and I am glad he lived long enough to see them go back to the top of the Football League again at the weekend."

As a teenager he spent eight years in the Navy where he rose to the rank of petty officer.

After two years with Norfolk Police he became a postman, which included rounds across the city, and was promoted to deputy postmaster of Norwich.

Former postal worker Roy Durrant heading up the postal workers strike of 1971 in Rose Lane, Norwich. 

Roy Durrant leading the postal workers march up Rose Lane, Norwich, during a seven day postal strike in 1971. - Credit: Supplied by the Durrant family

During his long career with the Post Office he led the local strike in 1971 while he was regional secretary of the Union of Post Office Workers.

One of his sons, Neil Durrant, said: "This was sometimes a bit of a conundrum for father as he was the manager as well. When he should have been encouraging the workers back to work he was ticked off by his bosses for handing out cigarettes on the picket lines."

He was also a county councillor for the Lakenham ward from 1981-85 for Labour.

Labour MP for Norwich South, Clive Lewis, said: "Roy was one of so many unsung heroes whose vocation is to serve their community and the people of their city. I was sorry to hear of his passing."

Later in life Mr Durrant, who had four children through his first marriage, volunteered as a driver for the RSPCA picking up animals across the county and was also on the prison board of visitors at Norwich and Wayland prisons.

Roy Durrant on HMS Indomitable at Gibralter during his navy career.

Roy Durrant on board HMS Indomitable at Gibralter. - Credit: Supplied by the Durrant family

A tribute from the RSPCA said: "The RSPCA Mid Norfolk and North Suffolk branch were deeply saddened to learn of the sad passing of Roy Durrant. Roy was a huge supporter of the RSPCA in Norfolk, before, during and after his tenure as Lord Mayor of Norwich and was tireless in his efforts to highlight the work of the local RSPCA and the plight of animals in need of help. He will be missed by the team at the branch." 

His eldest son Phil Durrant, said: "Dad certainly led a colourful life and was never happier than when helping others through his charity work, when his beloved Norwich City had won, or beating me at cricket as a kid."

Mr Durrant's youngest son, Keith Durrant, said: "He stuck by his principles and his help for others was something to aspire to."

The former mayor's daughter, Marie, said: "I will always remember him pressing his trousers with a damp cloth. He was meticulous about his clothes. We will all miss the same corny jokes that we heard so many times over the years."

She also fondly remembered him singing It's a Long Way to Tipperary and and making the family join in.

Mr Durrant died on November 22 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after a period of ill health.

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