John Mowson, OBE: Campaigner for Great Yarmouth’s outer harbour

A determined campaigner for Great Yarmouth's outer harbour, John Mowson, has died aged 81.

When the Queen and Prince Philip visited the town in 1985, he even broke royal protocol by asking if they might like to return for the harbour opening ceremony.

A leading member of the Great Yarmouth business community for more than half a century, John Bruce Mowson was born in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

He was posted to Norfolk to carry out his National Service with the Royal Air Force and served with the fighter control branch at both St Faith's and Coltishall, helping in the radar control of RAF flights. He obtained a short term Commission and met Sheila Nash, who later became his wife.

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An introduction took him to Great Yarmouth where he met Percy Sutton and was later persuaded to join the fish processing and herring curing industry after leaving the RAF in 1955. He went on to control Sutton Foods, which took the business into the frozen food era. As managing director of AA Tuttle, he helped transform fish into a health food. He was a member of the Herring Buyers' Association for a number of years.

Ironically, he was 'thrown in at the deep end' as he told the EDP when he joined the Great Yarmouth Port and Haven Commissioners in 1973 as one of the toll payers through his directorship with the Sutton Group. He served for a quarter of a century including 15 years as chairman from 1984.

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He was elected chairman of the Port Authority when the development of the outer harbour was taking place. Michael Boon, who was the former chief executive, recalled that he was most supportive with the preparations for new harbour to be developed and built.

With the creation of the Broads Authority, which took over the Commission's navigation powers on 134 miles of rivers and Broads, he served on the authority for two three-year terms.

He was also president of the Great Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce for at least two terms.

In October 1973, he was appointed a member of the East Anglia Regional Health Authority becoming the country's longest serving member. In his later service, he specialised in advising on property matters and was made OBE on retirement as a board member when the regional health authority was restructured.

A keen member of the Ravine Tennis Club, which played on the cliff top courts at Gorleston, he was also an enthusiastic skier and often sailed across the North Sea with friends.

An owner of classic cars, including an E-type Jaguar, he also acquired a good collection of local paintings including the Norwich School and the fishing industry in Great Yarmouth.

They lived at Blofield for 40 years, where he took a keen interest in the garden.

Married for 57 years, Sheila died two days before her husband.

He leaves two daughters, Susan and Fiona.

A joint funeral service will take place at Colney Wood on Tuesday, June 26, at 2pm.

Michael Pollitt

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