'He was special' - tributes to community stalwart and former councillor

Former Mayor of Thetford and EDP original, Colin Armes.

Former Mayor of Thetford and EDP original, Colin Armes. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Tributes have been paid to a "special" community stalwart who "greeted everybody as if they were his best friend".

Colin Armes died at the age of 90 on Monday (December 7) following a long battle with illness. 

Musical soiree, in aid of St Martin’s Housing Trust, at Anglia House Business Centre, Thetford, on N

Former councillor and mayor of Thetford, Colin Armes, has died at the age of 90  - Credit: Archant

The former town, district and county councillor was famed across Thetford for his selfless desire to help others and unrelenting commitment to bettering his community. 

His son, Nigel, said: "Wherever there was something going on for the community, dad was involved.

"He never did anything for himself; he did it for others, no matter what it was."

Paying tribute to one of his role models, local councillor Terry Jermy said Mr Armes was "one of the reasons I got into politics", adding "I learnt a lot from him over the years."

Former Mayor of Thetford and EDP original, Colin Armes.Opening Thetford Post Office

Colin Armes had two spells as mayor Thetford  - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Born at home, on Earl Street, Mr Armes was a dedicated Thetfordian who lived in the town for the vast majority of his life. 

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Having experienced the upheaval of the Second World War, he left school and worked in a shop on King Street for a short time, before heading to Singapore to complete his national service with the RAF - for which he later received a medal.

Upon his return Mr Armes found a job as a postman in Brandon, and it was within the postal service he stayed throughout his whole working career.

Later on, he was encouraged through work to get involved in local politics and it turned out to be a natural fit.

Breckland councillor Colin Armes.<For library files...picture supplied by Breckland Council...cont

Former Breckland Council chairman, Colin Armes, has died at the age of 90  - Credit: Breckland Council

Over the years, Mr Armes was a town councillor, became chairman of Breckland Council, and served on Norfolk County Council - completing an impressive triple crown. 

The long-time Labour Party member also enjoyed two spells as Thetford mayor, a position his wife, Sylvia, later inherited after following him into politics. 

Musical soiree, in aid of St Martin’s Housing Trust, at Anglia House Business Centre, Thetford, on N

Former councillor and mayor of Thetford, Colin Armes, has died at the age of 90. He is pictured in 2014, with his wife, Sylvia - Credit: Archant

Elsewhere, he played a pivotal role in countless committees, events and community groups, including Thetford Town Concert Committee, Thetford Festival, Barnham Cross Residents Association, Thetford Scouts and Thetford River Group - to name a few. 

"He was a very well-liked and popular Thetfordian, who was also very proud of his town," added Nigel.

"The journey Thetford has been through over the past 50-60 years is up there with the most radical in Norfolk, and he was a big part of that."

Jane Varanand and her team of volunteers weed the pathways in Thetford town centre. Colin Armes lan

Former councillor and mayor of Thetford, Colin Armes, has died at the age of 90  - Credit: Sonya Duncan

As a descendant of Robert Kett, it was the Norfolk hero's principles that Mr Armes looked to replicate throughout his life, according to Nigel. 

He said: "Dad was very proud of his connections and would put people right on what Robert Kett stood for. 

"Kett was all about fighting for the common folk and dad was very much of that ilk.

"The thing was he didn't just have time for his own age group and his own peers. He affected people of all ages."

Mr Jermy grew up on the Barnham Cross estate where Mr Armes dedicated so much of his time, and was in awe of his ceaseless work ethic during his teenage years.

Norfolk County Councillor Terry Jermy. Picture: Conor Matchett

Thetford councillor Terry Jermy has paid tribute to Colin Armes, who has died at the of 90 - Credit: Archant

"Colin was always out and about doing something there, whether it was meeting people or getting things done," he said. "That is what prompted me to join the Labour Party.

"He was a people person and would always greet everybody as if they were his best friend. His arm was always outstretched shaking someone's hands."

Despite experiencing a decline in his health in recent years, Mr Armes "never stopped" and remained as active as possible

A characature of THomas Paine is hung in the Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford along with a plaque to c

Former councillor and mayor of Thetford, Colin Armes (right), has died at the age of 90  - Credit: Sonya Duncan

He loved spending time in his garden and would grasp any opportunity he could to go out on his mobility scooter.

"Even at 90 he was not a muddled person - he knew entirely what was going on," said Nigel. "What failed him in the end was his body. 

"He never switched off and every day he would achieve something."

Former Mayor of Thetford and EDP original, Colin Armes.

Former councillor and mayor of Thetford, Colin Armes, has died at the age of 90  - Credit: Sonya Duncan

He added: "I have been blown away by what people have been saying about him.

"I always knew my dad was special. I was always the 'son of Colin', and the same with my siblings, which is a tribute in itself."

Mr Armes' family would like to thank Dr Bryson and his team at School Lane Surgery in Thetford for their devoted care.

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