Royle Drew: Magistrate, NU executive and would-be Norfolk MP

A long-serving Norwich Union executive and a magistrate, Royle Drew, who has died at his Wymondham home, aged 78, also stood for parliament as a Liberal MP.

He fought the June 1970 general election for the Central Norfolk seat against the incumbent Conservative, later Defence Secretary, Sir Ian Gilmour.

In a turnout of 76.7pc, he improved the Liberal vote to more than 6,100 while the MP was returned with a 13,891 majority.

Mr Drew, who had joined the Liberal Party five years earlier, had also stood for Hellesdon parish council, but without success.

A son of a coalminer from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, he had been awarded 'a three-quarter scholarship' to grammar school. But it was often hard for his father to find the other quarter, or �4, each term, until the 1944 Education Act came in.

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He trained as a clerk in Nottinghamshire County Council's treasurer's department. Then, in 1954, he joined Norwich Union in Nottingham. In 1960, he enjoyed the first of many promotions by the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society (now Aviva) and moved to the Norwich branch office as head clerk. For several years, he was a part-time tutor in insurance studies at Norwich City College.

In 1969, he became chairman of the Central Norfolk Liberal Association and also campaigned against high bus fares. His remedy was to allow bus companies to compete, which would encourage lower fares. As he told the EDP on election day, he used the bus every day of his working life to get to work from his then home in Middleton's Lane, Hellesdon. Ironically, despite having campaigned for bus concessions for pensioners for many years, he was actually reluctant for some years to apply for a pass himself.

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Mr Drew was one of a dozen magistrates who were sworn in by Norwich Town Clerk, Gordon Tilsley, in the presence of the Lord Mayor, Don Pratt, in February 1972.

In April 1972, he became a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute and was promoted to London and then again to Birmingham, returning to Norwich in 1984 in a senior executive position until retiring early in 1992.

A former Methodist chorister, he was initially a member of Park Lane Methodist Church, Norwich. But in later years he became a member of Toftwood Spiritualist Church and more recently the Norwich Spiritualist Church, Chapelfield.

He loved singing and performing and had joined a male voice choir in Birmingham. On his return to Norfolk, with fellow enthusiasts, he formed an informal group, the Ad Hoc and Royles, which toured the area entertaining old people.

A keen supporter of Norwich City, he had lived in Wymondham for the past 22 years and became involved with a number of local organisations.

He leaves three children, Patricia, Roger and Elizabeth; a younger son Alan died four years ago. He was also step-father to Paul and Dianne. He is survived by his first wife, Sheila.

A funeral service will be held at Colney Woodland Burial Park on Monday, May 23, at 11.30am.

Michael Pollitt

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