A dedicated borough and village councillor has died at the of 66

A LEADING businessman and local councillor in Great Yarmouth, Mike Butcher, died suddenly on Wednesday night. He was 66.

Mr Butcher, who lived in Gorleston, was the Conservative councillor for Bradwell South and Hopton ward on the borough council and a past chairman of Hopton Parish Council.

Mr Butcher had recently retired from the family business of running the Long Bar on Yarmouth’s seafront.

He attended a council meeting on Wednesday morning, but went home as he felt unwell. He was later taken to the James Paget University Hospital where he died last night.

A shocked council leader, Steve Ames, paying tribute yesterday said: “Mike was an asset to the council and was never frightened to take on a challenge. He will be greatly missed – personally, I will miss him.”

Close friend and businessman Ian McCreadie had known Mr Butcher and his wife Janette as a family friend for over 20 years. He said: “He was very kind-hearted and did a lot in and around the town.”

Mr Butcher leaves a widow, Janette, two sons and five grandchildren.

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He attended St Mary’s RC School and after passing his 11 plus went to the Technical High School (later Oriel High School, and now Ormiston Venture Academy) in Gorleston until 1961.

He worked as a plumbing apprentice from 1961 until completing his training and obtained a City and Guilds Qualification in 1966. He then joined the emerging offshore industry in Great Yarmouth working in the North Sea for some four years before moving overseas.

Mr Butcher worked in the Far East and Middle East for the next 15 years or so before returning to Yarmouth in 1985.

He started working for himself and purchased a holiday village in Corton, moving from that in 1990 when he took over the Longbar complex which the family still operates today.

During the last 15 years the family has also operated the Holkham Hotel and the Garibaldi. The “Gari” was demolished about five years ago, and there are now houses on the site.

In 2010, he retired from the family business to concentrate on his work as a borough councillor, a role he encompassed with enthusiasm.

Mr Butcher was also a Hopton Parish councillor and had been chairman for several years, during his time taking great delight in gaining lottery funds for the building of the new Hopton village hall complex.

Hopton clerk Julie MacNair, speaking on behalf of councillors and trustees said: “It is with sadness and a heavy heart that we advise Mike Butcher recently passed away.

“He was a Hopton Parish Councillor from 2001, and elected chairman from 2005 to May 2011.

“His dedication and commitment to the parish council, and residents of Hopton, was unswerving. He brought many positive changes and initiatives to the village and worked tirelessly with his colleagues bringing enthusiasm and vision to the role, until his untimely death this week.

“Mike was chairman of Hopton Village Hall Management Trust and a key member of the new building project team, securing lottery funding and other grants to enable the new village hall complex to be built for use by residents and the wider community.

“His achievements are too many to list. Mike was a larger-than-life character, and gave his time freely to benefit others. He will be sadly missed by us all. Our thoughts are with Janette, Aaron, Shane and family.”

Mr Butcher was a member, and former president, of Great Yarmouth Haven Rotary Club, and chairman of the Night Safe scheme. He was also a founding director of the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority and was instrumental in getting the CCTV system in Yarmouth under way.

Mercury Editor Anne Edwards said: “Mike was not only someone who I came into contact with regularly on a work basis, but he was also a good friend, an honest friend, and one who always had a smile on his face and a joke or two up his sleeve.

“Our heartfelt condolences go to his family.”

On his Facebook page Mr Butcher’s philosophy was: “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem! If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”