John Baldwin

Friends and colleagues yesterday paid tribute to former mayor of Eye John Baldwin who collapsed and died following a service at the parish church on Sunday.

Friends and colleagues yesterday paid tribute to former mayor of Eye John Baldwin who collapsed and died following a service at the parish church on Sunday.

Mr Baldwin, 74, made history in 1964 when he became the country's youngest mayor. He had joined Eye Borough Council in 1962, aged 29, and was appointed leader two years later.

He continued as a town councillor for 45 years and was honoured by his peers on his retirement last month with the awarding of a certificate to celebrate his outstanding service.

A retired farmer and former magistrate, he was a keen sportsman and talented athlete who had represented the county at bowls.


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He also raised thousands of pounds for the cottage hospital at Eye - serving as chairman of the Hartismere Hospital League of Friends for 40 years - and the campaign to save it from closure was dear to his heart.

Town councillor Charles Michell said: "He was one of the most distinguished of our residents who has served the town selflessly, and with great distinction, and he will be sadly missed. I remember him telling me he was an Eye man through and through, and nobody I think has given such service to his home town as John Baldwin did."

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Anita Burnard, of the friends group, said: "Saving the hospital was very important to him and, of course, he worked so hard to be at the head of raising money. The league of friends has ploughed thousands of pounds into the hospital."

Mr Baldwin collapsed outside St Peter and Paul Church just before 1pm on Sunday. The air ambulance and paramedics were unable to revive him.

Janet Chambers, the EDP's correspondent for Eye, said: "John's wife is in the church choir and he was a regular churchgoer and this is a blow for the community. We knew he had been seriously ill, but he never let ill health hold him back in any way, and was well supported by his wife Beth.

"One of the highlights of his life was when he was invited to the Queen's garden party at Buckingham Palace."

Mr Baldwin leaves a wife, a son and two daughters, and nine grandchildren.

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