Brave community champion Roy Blower is taking holidays while he still can. Reporter DAVID BALE met the man known for his ardent support of Norwich City Football Club and his decades of public service.
PUBLISHED: 09:45 04 March 2013
Archant © 2013
Roy Blower has just returned from a cruise around West Africa.
Last year he went on a cruise around Dubrovnik and the Greek Islands, and he’s also enjoyed a Caribbean cruise since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease three and half years ago.
“I’m keeping it at bay, but I’m going on holiday while I can,” he said matter-of-factly.
He’s proud that he’s on the minimum medication for the disease and he’s doing yoga classes and keeping his weight in check to keep it at bay.
One of the side effects of the disease is a stooped posture, which he joked might also have been caused by the
heavy chain he wore around his neck as Lord Mayor of Norwich, a position he held in 2007/8.
“Parkinson’s also affects your balance, but my philosophy is to say what you can rather than what you cannot do,” he said.
Last year he spoke publicly for the first time of his battle with Parkinson’s, and how it led him to step down from political life.
The former Norwich city and Norfolk county councillor would have loved to have served for longer, but decided not to stand for re-election as he felt he could not fulfil the role any more to the levels deserved by voters and his fellow councillors.
But the grandfather-of-three, who will be 70 soon, is now doing everything he can to fill his time and keep his mind occupied.
He still plays in the Norwich and District table tennis league, after 52 seasons, and he’s just become a trustee of Norwich War Memorial Trust.
He said: “It’s so important that we recognise what people who came before us have done. Everybody knows about the Edith Cavell memorial and the memorial opposite City Hall, but there are more than 200 war memorials in Norwich. “When Steve Morphew was leader of the city council, he got fed up with me going on about war memorials, and I’m now a trustee. As a Norwich boy I’m honoured and privileged to be on the trust.”
He’s also an ambassador for the plans to bring speedway back to Norwich, which remain on course for this year.
He said: “I’ve been a fan of speedway all my life. I went over to Sweden a few years ago when I was guest of honour at the unveiling of a statue to Norwich speedway rider Ove Fundin, who was the greatest ever.
“I spoke at the civic reception for him, and it was fantastic for someone, who had been a fan of his when I watch him in Norwich, to now count him as a friend. Ove is pushing 80 but there’s more fat on a chip. I’m hoping that plans for the return of speedway in Norwich get approved.”
Mr Blower’s public service in Norwich and Norfolk has extended into many other organisations, but he might be best known for his ardent support of Norwich City Football Club, which he’s very keen to talk about.
He was just 12 when he started working for the supporters’ club. “It was illegal as I was too young. You had to be 13,” he said.
He’s an associate director of the club and still president of the Norwich Independent Supporters’ Association.
He watched the Norwich versus Everton game at Carrow Road recently, but missed the goals that secured city’s win.
“Wearing another hat, I had to leave to go to Dunston Hall for a British Heart Foundation event.
“I left the match with eight minutes to go, to make sure I got away on time, but missed the two goals. But I rejoiced with Chris Goreham on Radio Norfolk. He got very excited.”
Born in Norwich, he attended Bignold School, which he returned to when he was mayor.
“A six-year-old asked me if was a pirate, and I told him: ‘No, but close’.”
He then attended a school in Lakenham, which is now part of the Hewett School.
He started work at Eastern Counties Bus company when he was just 15 years and eight days old, and stayed there for eight years. He was the youngest city magistrate at 28, serving for 20 years, and ran his own roofing company for 25 years.
“The magistrates’ court used to be held at Norwich Guildhall, and they used to have a policeman on the door. He always used to think I was too young to be a magistrate.”
Giving up his role as city councillor in 2011, and county councillor in 2009, had freed up more time to spend with his family. “Going to so many meetings consumes your life,” he said.