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Emotional tribute to Community Hero

PUBLISHED: 10:40 09 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:23 30 June 2010

THE partner of community champion Fred Learmonth has paid emotional tribute this week her “rock and the love of her life.”

Scotsman Fred died last Thursday aged 63 at the James Paget University Hospital after a long battle against cancer.

THE partner of community champion Fred Learmonth has paid emotional tribute this week her “rock and the love of her life.”

Scotsman Fred died last Thursday aged 63 at the James Paget University Hospital after a long battle against cancer.

He devoted time and effort to improve the quality of life for residents of Gorleston, but Jean Williams remembers him best for his bravery and sense of humour.

She had cared for Fred for the last 12 months after he was diagnosed with bone cancer and was at his bedside when he passed away.

Speaking to the Mercury at the couple's Paston Road home, Jean, 55, recalled life with the man she met and fell in love with nineteen years ago.

She said: “Freddie coped well with the illness, he was very brave and just carried on with life. He was always telling jokes - just made me laugh was such a character. I loved him to bits, he was my rock and can't describe how I feel without him, it is so lonely and horrible.

“He had been in a lot of pain at times, but was so calm and peaceful when he died.

“It is very strange without him around he had such an outgoing personality, I have the radio on all the time because it is so quiet.”

“People have been so kind since he died there has been so many cards and flowers - it just shows how highly he was thought of.”

“He didn't talk much about his work with the police and the community - it was something he liked to keep separate.

“Freddie loved gardening, the garden was his pride and joy he was out there day and night and grew everything from seed.

“One of his proudest achievements was winning the Yarmouth in Bloom champion of champion awards.”

The couple spent their first date at the Pleasure Beach, met again the following day and quickly fell in love.

A father of two grown up sons from his previous relationship, Fred moved to Yarmouth with his parents more than 30 years ago.

A trained chef he joined the army from school and worked for a time offshore before retiring due to ill-health.

Since 2003 he had worked tirelessly to rid the Magdalen Estate of anti social behaviour and made dedicated efforts to improve the environment.

In July last year, Fred was presented with a special award for his work in the community by Superintendent Jim Smerdon who described Mr Learmonth as a “legend."

He also received awards from the Norfolk Waste Management Partnership and the Taking A Stand Award from the Home Office.

Commenting on his death, police Superintendent Smerdon, commander of the Great Yarmouth district, said: “This is tragic news and our thoughts are with Fred's family and friends at this difficult time. Fred was a much-loved character and worked tirelessly to improve the community in which he lived.

“There is no doubt that his dedicated efforts have made his community in Gorleston and others in the borough a better place to live and I hope his actions will act as a legacy to others.”

The funeral takes place at Gorleston Crematorium on Friday donations should be made to Macmillan Cancer Support through Co-op Funeral Services on 01493 440838.


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