Oak tree tribute to Caister councillor

A HOLLY oak tree was planted in Caister this week as a memorial to one of the longest-serving councillors in the country.

More than 20 people, including Great Yarmouth Mayor Michael Jeal and Caister Parish Council chairman Tony Overill, and family members attended the ceremony on Tuesday in the grounds of Caister High School in memory of parish councillor Jack Chase, left, who died aged 104 in November.

Poignantly, the school had already planned to plant the 10ft-tall tree, before his death on November 17 following a suspected stroke, to remember his work as one of the school governors.

The former RAF officer, had served as a councillor for 83 years.

Tony Tomkinson, chairman of Norfolk County Council, spoke of Mr Chase’s “unprecedented record of public service.”

He added: “He was dedicated to his parish, his borough council work and of course his work within the numerous other organisations with which he was involved.

“We have chosen Caister High School for the location of the tree because Jack was instrumental in saving the school when it was threatened with closure.

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“Jack successfully lobbied the government to keep open this vital part of the village and, together with his active involvement as a school governor, this seemed a fitting place to publicly remember Jack.”

Cllr Tony Overill added his own memories of Mr Chase, describing him as a “caring man who would go out of his way to help the community.”

He said: “His knowledge and help on the parish council was invaluable and his anecdotes and dry jokes have been sorely missed.”

School headteacher George Denby revealed: “He always took a really active part in school life and even before he died he attended every governors’ meeting and in his normal style would ask some really awkward questions. Even at the age of 104 he would still ask challenging questions.”

Mr Chase first won a seat on Caister Parish Council in 1927 and also represented his village on Blofield and Flegg Rural District Council from 1948, and Yarmouth Borough Council from 1973 following local government re-organisation.

In his leisure time, he was a former captain, and first president, of Caister Golf Club.

He married wife Kathleen in 1931, who died in 1992, and has three surviving children.