Death of former Yarmouth Borough chief exec

KEN Ward, who served as chief executive of Great Yarmouth Borough Council from 1974 to 1993, has died aged 83.

Born in Epsom, London, the man described as the perfect English gentleman died peacefully on July 25, at the Coach House care home, Yarmouth Road, Hemsby.

Mr Ward, a trained solicitor, oversaw a period in which the borough of Great Yarmouth’s boundaries expanded to almost double the size to include rural areas such as Flegg and Caister-on-Sea.

But the man will be not only be remembered as a considerate, competent leader, but as a well-liked, courteous and calming influence.

Councillor for West Flegg ward Barry Coleman, and mayor from 1983 to 1984 when Mr Ward was chief executive, said: “He was a great help and support to me during my time as mayor, and gave me a lot of advice.

“I remember my mayor making ceremony, he took me to one side and said ‘take everything slowly, do not rush anything otherwise it will go by too quickly’.

“He was a great diplomat and could defuse situations. Councils were very confrontational in those days and he was a calming influence, it was just his nature, he was a very calm person and exuded calmness and confidence.

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“I think his greatest achievement as chief executive was in successfully integrating the rural areas into the borough, gelling them into one coherent unit.”

In a letter to Mr Ward’s widow, Joan, the current managing director of the council, Richard Packham wrote: “Ken had a bearing that combined great dignity with a warmth that made him very approachable. . . he was someone who adhered to the highest professional standards, was possessed of considerable wisdom and who understood and cared deeply for the Councillors and staff that he worked with.

“During his career, Ken witnessed huge changes in local government but it seemed to me that he had successfully embraced the modern role of a Chief Executive as business manager, while retaining the best traditions of the Town clerk as a civic figure.”

Mr Ward began life as a solicitor, and first worked in local government in Kingston Upon Thames, southwest London.

He and his wife were married in 1955 at Christ Church, Epsom.

Mrs Ward, 80, of Ormesby St Margaret, has received a number of letters of condolence referring to Mr Ward as the perfect English gentleman.

She remembered him as a charming man, who would take her sailing on the Norfolk Broads on Sundays, mooring up at Ranworth Broad late at night to listen to the ringing of the bells of St Helen’s Church.

She said that, as a leader he “had the best interests of the town at heart”, and enjoyed one of his proudest moments when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Yarmouth in August 1985.

Mrs Ward said: “He was so proud because the town had been honoured by the Queen. That proved he had its best interests at heart. He would have been so proud also to read the letters I have received.”

Mr Ward was a founder member of the Great Yarmouth Haven Rotary Club in 1981, was president in 1994 to 1995, and was made honorary member in 2011.

Mr Ward’s funeral will be at St Margaret’s Church, Ormesby, on Wednesday, August 8 at 11.45am.