Norwich bids an emotional farewell to popular community champion

Police, council and business leaders joined family members for an emotional farewell to a much loved community champion, who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of everyone who lived and worked in Norwich.

Julian Foster, pictured below, chairman of the Central Norwich Citizens' Forum and the city centre's safer neighbourhood action panel, who was also a promoter of the city centre's night-time economy, died earlier this month following a short battle with cancer.

More than 60 people attended a funeral service for the 80-year-old father-of-three and grandfather-of-four, which was held yesterday at Earlham Crematorium.

Tina Bowden, a civil celebrant and former registrar who conducts civil funerals, led the service and urged all those present to not only say their goodbyes but to 'honour and celebrate' Mr Foster's life.

She said Mr Foster would not want friends or family to 'mourn his death forever or shed eternal tears' but remember, with love, the happy times they were 'privileged to share' with him.

She said Mr Foster's family told her he was the 'type of father who they could rely upon' who would be there at the end of the phone for advice, and to offer his support and 'vast knowledge' whether it was about life issues or gardening.

Mr Foster was described as an extremely intelligent and dignified man who worked 'tirelessly to make Norwich a better place to live in'.

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She added: 'Some people just can't help making a difference in the world... and when they are gone we realise how lucky we were to know them. I think the world, and especially Norwich, has lost a very special man.

'We love you and will always remember you so please rest in peace Julian.'

The service, which included the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful, was attended by members of Mr Foster's immediate family as well as those people he has come to know well through his work in Norwich.

Stefan Gurney, City Centre Partnership manager, Alan Day, Mall manager, Nick De'Ath, chairman of the city-centre licensing forum, and Phil Cutter, landlord of the Murderers pub, were among those paying their respects.

There was also a strong police contingent at the service for Mr Foster, who was chairman of the city centre safer neighbourhood team action panel.

Chief Inspector Gavin Tempest from Norfolk Constabulary paid tribute to Mr Foster on behalf of the police during the ceremony, which was followed by a wake at Take 5 near the city's Tombland – a venue the popular pensioner used to visit almost daily.

Ch Insp Tempest, formerly a city-centre inspector, said he first came across Mr Foster about nine years ago and 'very quickly became aware of what you might call a presence in the city – a very formidable person called Julian Foster'.

He said: 'To say he was involved in the city was an understatement – there wasn't an aspect of my work or those in the city centre that wasn't affected by Julian from the business community to city-centre partnership to people involved in the night-time economy.'

Ch Insp Tempest said Mr Foster was a 'very knowledgeable man' who used his experiences of life – including a meeting with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani – to try to improve things in Norwich for others.

He described Mr Foster as being popular, a model citizen, a community leader and champion, a statesman and someone who was 'committed and involved'.

He added: 'Julian Foster was an all-round stand-up guy'.

As previously reported, Mr Foster, who was admitted to hospital on November 28, gave up his own time to run the citizens' forum and was a tireless campaigner for the rights of people living in the city centre.

He was at the forefront of the Evening News's Graffitibusters campaign to rid the city's streets of illegal graffiti tags and worked closely with police in the city to make Norwich a safer place.

Would you like to pay tribute to a loved one? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email