Tributes to popular village stalwart who 'got things done'

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden's 40th anniversary year. The restoration of the West Garden.The

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden's 40th anniversary year. The restoration of the West Garden.The first phase of the project is the restoration of a candelabra primula bed, which has been eroded over a number of years by the high tides that find their way up the dykes into the garden. George Debbage (manager and Head Gardener from 1975 - 2007) has come back to help with the restoration.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Tributes have been paid to a former council chairman who fought for countless causes in his village after he died at the age of 80.

George Debbage represented South Walsham on Broadland Council as an independent for more than a decade and spent three years as chairman of the council.

George Debbage has received a medal for 40 years as a gardener at Fairhaven Gardens in South Walsham

George Debbage receiving a medal for 40 years as a gardener at Fairhaven Gardens in South Walsham in 2003 - Credit: Steve Parsons

During this time he fought passionately for a range of causes, having already been thoroughly ingrained in the village's community.

A well-known and popular man, there were few walks of life you could take in the village without crossing Mr Debbage's path.

COUNCILLOR GEORGE DEBBAGE, CHAIRMAN OF BROADLAND DISTRICT COUNCIL AND KEN SHIPMAN, CHAIRMAN OF WHERR

George Debbage, left, unveiling a sign outside a new housing estate in 1998. - Credit: Julian Nicholls

His wife Beryl said he was a driven, motivated man who would always go out of his way to help others.

She said: "He was a person who made sure everything he said he would do got done. He was determined and if he felt something was right he would do everything in his power to make sure it happened.

Chinese New Year celebrations at Riverbank Chinese Restaurant, on February 21, 2011.; Beryl Debbage,

George and Beryl Debbage at Chinese New Year celebration in 2011 - Credit: Bob Hobbs

"They always say if you want something done ask a busy person, and he was that person."

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In his working life, Mr Debbage was a gardener and in 1973 was hand-picked by Lord Fairhaven to become head gardener at Fairhaven Gardens, a job he held for more than 40 years, where he spearheaded its transformation from being private to a much-loved public attraction.

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden's 40th anniversary year. The restoration of the West Garden.

George Debbage, pictured at Fairhaven Garden in 2015 - Credit: James Bass

He also organised regular fundraisers in the village, led a campaign to save the village school from closure and was successful in a bid to get a new village hall built while he was a parish councillor.

Mrs Debbage said another issue he was passionate about was making sure there was sufficient social housing in the village.

He also spent three years as the chairman of Broadland Council between 1997 and 2000 and was secretary and treasurer of South Walsham Football Club.

Fairhaven: Pictured with Lord Fairhaven at Fairhaven Garden Trust with Richard Ayres of The National

George Debbage, right, pictured with Richard Ayres of the National Trust and Lord Fairhaven - Credit: Chris Gorman

Mrs Debbage, who he married on August 22, 1964, added: "Since he died I have had so many lovely messages from people saying how much he meant to me and what a lovely man he was.

"He always said it was such a privilege to serve the village."

Mr and Mrs Debbage had two children together, Tim and Chris, and he leaves three grandchildren, Milo, 12, Matilda, nine and Theo, six.

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