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Tributes paid to Watton town councillor Richard Crabtree, who died at 73

PUBLISHED: 11:02 08 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:27 08 December 2017

Richard Crabtree from Watton, 7th September 1980. Photo: Archant Library

Richard Crabtree from Watton, 7th September 1980. Photo: Archant Library

Archant Library

Tributes have been paid to the former Watton town councillor who was described as: “wonderful” and a “stalwart of the town”.

Watton and District Rotary Club President, Richard Crabtree, 6th July 1993. Photo: Archant Library Watton and District Rotary Club President, Richard Crabtree, 6th July 1993. Photo: Archant Library

Richard Crabtree passed away on Tuesday, November 28, aged 73.

He died peacefully in hospital after suffering a heart attack in early September.

Mr Crabtree was born on March 16, 1944, in Guildford, Surrey. And his community spirit began early, as he was made Outstanding Young Citizen of the Year, in 1963.

After marrying Janis in 1969, the couple moved to Watton in 1971, where Mr Crabtree worked from home as a business advisor.

His daughter, Rebecca Clinton, 44, said of her father: “Both him and my mum spent a lot of time doing things for the community.

“Dad was part of the Round Table; he helped at the school and on the council; was a member of the sports centre, and the 41 Club.

“A lot of it in the last 13 years was to keep him busy, after mum died in 2004. It was about putting something into the community.”

Mrs Clinton described her late father as: “a very friendly man who would speak his mind.

“He had a big personality, and would do anything for anybody, from running the old people’s Christmas party to doing the shopping for a lady on his street.”

Mr Crabtree was also passionate about photography, and his daughter remembered fondly being taken to the Norfolk coast for her dad to pursue his hobby.

She said: “You’d always see him with a camera, and he belonged to the Caston camera club.”

Mrs Clinton and her brother Edward, 35, grew up in Watton.

She said: “I was lucky to have dad walk me down the aisle at my wedding. He supported and encouraged us in everything.”

Mr Crabtree was a treasured grandfather, or ‘grandan’ to his two grandchildren: seven-year-old Oliver Clinton, and three-year-old sister Pippa.

Breckland district councillor, Keith Gilbert, said: “He did so much, and not just on the council.

“He was in the Rotary Club and organised the Christmas dinner for the elderly at the high school.

Mr Gilbert added: “He was a great guy - his heart was really in the town. He will be sadly missed.

The funeral will be at Watton’s St Mary’s Church, on Friday December 15, at 11.30am, followed by a cremation at Earlham Crematorium, at 1.30pm.

Donations in his memory may be made to the children’s charity Nelson’s Journey or to the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

‘He had a very big heart’ - Watton remembers Richard Crabtree

Many people have shared their memories of Mr Crabtree.

Sue Thompson:

“Richard was a wonderful man who did many things for local groups in Watton. He did what he did with a smile and never expected praise.

“He will be missed by many people including myself”

Sandra Skipper:

“Richard was a valuable member of the Watton Pantomine Group.

“We will greatly miss Richard at our next show and are dedicating our pantomime to performed in February to him.”

Cheryl Clayton:

“Richard was a larger than life character who undoubtedly livened up any meeting or social gathering.

“He had a very big heart and worked tirelessly towards making Watton a better place.

“He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”

Karl Green:

“I will miss Richard tremendously. He was a dear friend, a confidant, a father and a colleague.”

Norman Wilson:

“Richard was a long-term member of the Wayland Chamber of Commerce, and served as chairman twice over the past 25 years.

“He was always fun and put his heart and soul into everything he did. His heart was always in the right place.”

Tim Leonard:

“Richard and I were former members of Watton and District Round Table. After the demise of that club in Watton, Richard and I decided to continue organising the annual Senior Citizen’s Party, an event which has taken place for many years every Christmas.

“Richard and I organised it and in recent years it took place at the Wayland Academy. On the night of the event Richard acted as MC, a role which he thoroughly enjoyed, dressed in his tuxedo, ensuring that the 150 plus pensioners who attended had a good night.”

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