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Cross-party tributes to councillor

PUBLISHED: 19:42 11 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:38 30 June 2010

POLITICIANS put party allegiances aside to pay tribute to a popular borough councillor who died suddenly aged 53.

Labour councillor Richard Barker, who represented Claydon ward in Gorleston, passed away after suffering a heart attack at work last week.

POLITICIANS put party allegiances aside to pay tribute to a popular borough councillor who died suddenly aged 53.

Labour councillor Richard Barker, who represented Claydon ward in Gorleston, passed away after suffering a heart attack at work last week. He had previously been in good health and had no history of heart disease.

The dad-of-two, who had a lifelong passion for politics, was first elected in 2005 and successfully defended the seat two years later.

Leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council Barry Coleman said: “It is a great sadness when someone so young dies so suddenly. Richard only served on the council for four years, but I had great respect for his contribution and he always spoke a great deal of sense.”

Fellow Claydon ward councillor Bernard Williamson described Mr Barker as “a person to be relied on in an hour of need.”

He added: “Richard was a close friend of mine and was the most loyal, reliable and trustworthy of people. He was an excellent ward councillor and really put his heart into it. He was a well respected councillor and Labour party member and will be sadly missed in his ward and by his family.”

An electrician, Mr Barker, from Belton, was working at Lowestoft-based energy company SLP when he fell ill last Tuesday week.

Norwich-born, he moved to Yarmouth as an 11-year-old and was a pupil at the old Styles secondary school.

He married Lou in 1981 and leaves two children, Rebecca and James, and two grandchildren Brooke, 19 months and Tyrone, eight.

Mrs Barker said: “Richard loved working with people and serving the community and had a hatred of injustice and oppression. He got on well with everyone whatever their political beliefs and, although on the Labour side, many Tory councillors have called to offer their commiserations.

“He was a big family man, loved his three dogs and the outdoor life, did a lot of hill walking and trekking and was a very keen traveller. He visited the Everest and K2 base camps, travelled to South America and New Zealand and been round Eastern Europe.”

A fervent Norwich City supporter,

Mr Barker was a season ticket holder at Carrow Road, played football and rugby and was a keen canoeist.

He was a member on the licensing, scrutiny and audit and risk committees and a Labour whip. Before his election to the borough council, he served on Belton parish council for eight years.

Son James said: “Dad was so full of life and was really looking forward to retiring and travelling to more places.”

The funeral is at Gorleston crematorium on Thursday - donations to be given to Amnesty International.

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