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Official re-opening of Norwich's Memorial Gardens. David Heir, serving soldier from the Royal Anglian Regiment and Victor Howe, President of the Norwich branch of the Royal British Legion cutting the ribbon to open the gardens 16th March 2011. Picture: James Bass
Friday, June 29, 2012
The man who helped to open the new look Norwich memorial gardens and appealed for people to treat them with respect, Vic Howe, has died.
The President of the Norwich branch of the Royal British Legion, Victor Howe, the man who helped to open the restored memorial gardens last year following a £2.6m restoration project, has died at the age of 85.
In the relatively short time he had been living in the city Mr Howe had become a popular and highly respected figurehead of the British Legion.
It was a proud moment for him when he represented the organisation and officially opened the new-look memorial gardens, along with serving soldier David Heir, at a moving ceremony attended by hundreds of people last year.
At the time, he appealed for the people of Norwich to come together and make sure the memorial and the gardens in front of City Hall were treated with the respect and dignity they deserved.
“Places like this give a lot of comfort to the loved ones of people who have lost their lives. Some of these soldiers do not have graves, so this is a place where their family and friends can come to remember them,” said Vic.
“We should remember that this is not just about people who have died in the world wars, but people who have been lost in more recent conflicts, such as those in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and The Falklands,” he said.
“The memorial and the gardens give comfort to loved ones. Love is greater than death because it carries on. These gardens are all about love, remembrance and support,” added Vic.
Norwich City Council leader, Brenda Arthur, said: “Vic was a great ambassador and lobbyist for the war memorial and kept the pressure on to ensure that we did deliver on our promises to return it to its former glory.
“But he was also a gentle, courteous man, who had a mischievous twinkle in his eye and was always ready to do what he could to help and support us in our efforts. He will be missed,” she added.
Born in July 1926 in Battersea, he was the youngest of nine children. His mother was a First World War widow with six children, who then remarried and had three more children. Vic was the youngest.
He survived the London Blitz and was called up towards the end of the war and posted to Graz in Austria with the army in the allied occupation of Austria. He said his war lasted nine years.
On returning to London he married Phyllis in 1951 and they had two children, Christopher and Sally. He ran his own furniture business before working as a financial advisor. He was an active member of the Liberal Party and a founder member of the Battersea Society.
Vic and Phyllis moved to Norwich in 2004 to be near their daughter Sally and her family and he soon became involved in city life.
He joined the British Legion and became president, working hard to promote the annual Poppy Appeal.
He was involved with Norwich in Bloom and helped to keep the churchyard neat and tidy at St Stephen’s Church. He was also a committee member of the Friends of Eaton Park.
His daughter Sally said that although her father knew he had cancer for some time, he was determined to fight it and carry on fulfilling his public duties for as long as possible.
Phyllis died on April 13, exactly two months before Vic died on June 13.
“I know he greatly appreciated the treatment and care given to him at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, as well as the medical and nursing care he received in the community after treatment at hospital finished. He was also very grateful to the Marie Curie nurses, as were all the family,” said Sally.
He leaves a son, daughter, son and daughter-in-laws and four grandchildren.
The funeral service is at St Stephen’s Church, Rampant Horse Street, on Monday July 2 at 1.15pm.