Roy Rudling: Two-time Watton mayor, ex-chairman of Breckland Council, hardware store owner

Watton has 'lost one of its statesmen' after two-times mayor Roy Rudling died suddenly at the age of 76, two days after his last council meeting.

Mr Rudling was well known in the town after working in the hardware business for nearly 40 years, and founding the high street hardware shop that still bears his name.

He was born in 1935, one of nine siblings, and saw national service in Cyprus.

After returning he started work at Julnes and Sons hardware store in Watton, becoming manager before founding Rudling's DIY in the mid-1960s.

His only child Louise Wilson, who worked with him on Saturdays and during school holidays, remembered people visiting the store seeking his help.

She said: 'He had a real passion for the town and did the best he could for the town. As a businessman he was always involved in anything he could be. He was always keen to help anybody whenever he could.'

She said her father as knew his mind, a view shared by current Watton mayor Michael Wassell.

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He said: 'I think he was determined. He knew his mind and what he wanted, but I think he respected people who were equally as forthright as he was. He liked to get in debates in terms of trying to tease out all the issues.

'Someone said to me Watton had lost one of its statesmen, and I think that is a good summary. He tried to do what he perceived would be best for the town, and as a local councillor I think that's something we should strive for.

'He had a great influence on the town. He was well known in the town and I think the majority of people would know Roy Rudling, and the improvements in the town over the past 40 years are part of his legacy.'

He represented Watton on Breckland Council between 1979 and 2007, becoming chairman in 2006.

Breckland Council leader William Nunn said: 'During the many years Roy served the council he made a great contribution to the district and in particular to his local area. Roy was a great character and will be sadly missed by all those who knew him. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.'

In recent months Mr Rudling developed a passion for his allotment, and was also a keen golfer who played twice a week in Swaffham, and farmed some agricultural land.

He died on Thursday March 29, and his funeral will take place at St Mary's Church, Watton, at 11am on Monday April 23. All are welcome.

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