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Kessingland stalwart's memory will live on

PUBLISHED: 11:27 29 April 2011

Gerald Brown with the medal given to his father Roynon at Kessingland.
Photo: Andy Darnell

Gerald Brown with the medal given to his father Roynon at Kessingland. Photo: Andy Darnell

Archant © 2011

A community is paying tribute to a 'village stalwart' who died just weeks before he could be given the freedom on the parish.

Roynon Brown, who died aged 95 in October last year, was believed to be one of the longest serving parish councillors in Suffolk. He sat on Kessingland Parish Council for more than 45 years and, having lived in Kessingland his entire life, was an expert on local maritime history.

Last last year the council decided to award Mr Brown the Freedom of the Village and commissioned a decorative medal which they planned to present on his 96th birthday. Sadly, just weeks before they could present the medal Mr Brown died from mesothelioma - the disease related to exposure to asbestos.

Now, to further honour the former councillor, the village is renaming its beach picnic area after him. Work to improve the picnic site is already underway - a new flag pole should soon be put in place. Once complete, the area will be renamed the ‘Roy Brown Memorial Gardens’.

“He would have enjoyed that,” said his son Gerald Brown, who posthumously accepted the medal on behalf on his late father back in February.

“He would have been very happy because he loved being part of the village.”

The commemorative medal, which Gerald keeps safe alongside the MBE award which his father was given by Prince Charles in 1995, is engraved with the Kessingland village sign and the inscription ‘Roynon Brown MBE Honorary - Freeman of the Parish Of Kessingland. On the reverse is a picture of a Lowestoft steam fishing trawler and the old Bolton Lifeboat, the first lifeboat to work from Kessingland Beach.

“He was born in the village in 1914 and spent his whole life here. He knew everyone and was involved in all sorts of clubs as well as the council.

“He was very active and never one to sit about. He was going out and about right up until the end. He was still driving his car just a few days before he died.”

Mr Brown’s ancestors were all local fisherman, going right back to the 1800s.

At the age of 14 he became an apprentice shipwright at the J Chambers Yard and worked on the trawlers and drifters of the then-considerable Lowestoft fishing fleet. He eventually became the yard foreman and in the war served as a Home Guard sergeant.

He was incredibly proud of the region’s maritime history and was considered an expert in the field of old wooden boats. He even advised the group who restored the Excelsior - Lowestoft’s former fishing smack currently celebrating her 90th birthday.

“Father never got to see the medal,” said Gerald.

“But we know he would have been very happy with it.”

While Mr Brown can no longer share his stories or anecdotes about life in Kessingland, his memory will live on in others. A few days before he died his granddaughter Sharron, daughter of Gerald and his wife Patricia, revealed that she was expecting a little boy.

Three weeks ago little James Roy - named in honour of his great-grandfather arrived in the world.

Later this month, a celebration will be held to mark to official renaming of Kessingland’s beach picnic area. Call the parish council on 01502744367 to find out more.

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