Councillors recognise Jack’s 83 years of service

For more than 80 years he has attended hundreds of parish council meetings and discussed important community issues.

And last night the oldest and longest-serving parish councillor in the country, Jack Chase, could be seen in his usual seat on Caister Parish Council.

However the night’s events took a surprise turn as the modest 103-year-old was given a civic reception in his honour at the parish hall on Yarmouth Road.

About 40 people attended the special event which saw Mr Chase being presented with a commemorative certificate by the chairman of Norfolk County Council, Tony Tomkinson. A tree will also be planted in his honour at Caister High School.

However it was then business as usual for Mr Chase as he took part in a monthly parish council meeting which discussed a housing development in West Road and the council’s website.

It is 83 years since a fresh faced 21-year-old took his seat on the council.

Since then Mr Chase has been a constant at the council and has ably served the local community in other fields as well.

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Mr Chase is a governor of Caister High School, served on the Muckfleet and South Flegg Internal Drainage Board and sat on the Norfolk Association of Disabled People and a sea defence committee and was church warden at Holy Trinity church.

The great grandfather, who lives in Yarmouth Road, was also a keen golfer until five years ago and had a handicap of seven.

Praising his strong community role, Mr Tomkinson said: “Mr Chase has been a devoted public servant over the course of 83 years and exemplifies the dedication and commitment of many people who give their time to their community and work with great enthusiasm.

“The fact he has given the best part of his life to public service must be unprecedented and also shows his tremendous spirit.

“Although Mr Chase gets on with his work with a great deal of modesty, I hope he enjoys stepping into the limelight momentarily because he deserves our public heartfelt thanks and appreciation for such a marvellous achievement.”

Mr Chase, who turns 104 on Sunday, has said his biggest achievement in the village was overseeing the work on Caister’s seawall in the 1930s.

He is also proud of helping to bring three schools to Caister after the war and the creation of the King George V playing fields.

Mr Chase told the civic reception: “Ladies and gents I thank you very much for bringing me here tonight. I must confess it was a surprise.”

Tony Overill, chairman of Caister Parish Council, said Mr Chase’s encyclopedic knowledge of Caister and the workings of its council were invaluable.

Mr Overill said: “He is still as sharp as a button. There are many times he has told me in meetings, you cannot do that Mr Chairman.

“Often when we have a problem which is historical, we turn to Jack and within a couple of minutes he can tell you exactly what has happened and what needs to be done.”

Mr Chase, who is the father of former Norwich City Football Club chairman Robert Chase, has also served on Blofield and Flegg Rural District Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

When he was about to celebrate his 100th birthday Mr Chase told the EDP he believed the number of councils should be halved with fewer councillors and fewer tiers.

He said: “Whenever we found ourselves three members short on a committee we got on quicker and better.”

Mr Chase also said in 2006 it was sad there was not enough interest from villagers on serving on Caister Parish Council.