Tribute to a true man of the people

Well-known Norwich man John Loveday has died aged 83. Derek James pays tribute to him and the work he did for the people of the city.

He climbed on his bike to serve Norwich as a messenger boy in the second world war... the start of a cycle ride which lasted for the rest of his life.

And when he wasn't cycling, or playing rugby, he spent much of his life campaigning for a better city and doing what he could to help others in so many different ways. His name was John Loveday, a former Labour city councillor, who has just died at the age of 83.

He was a true man of the people, especially interested in education and housing, who had spent many years in Heartsease where he was a key figure in setting up the Heartsease and Valley Drive Residents' Association.

A staunch Labour Party supporter and trade unionist he served on numerous local and national committees and as a Labour city councillor for Earlham in the 1960s.

Many of you reading this will have known John. A council tenant for more than half a century who always had time for others. He was recently awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from Norwich City Council for his long and valuable work on a whole range of housing issues.

During the second world war, soon after the Norwich Blitz, young John joined the Civil Defence Messenger Service –riding around the city delivering important messages.

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After leaving Alderman Jex School at the age of 14 he got a job at Laurence Scott & Electromotors as an apprentice engineer. He joined the AEU trade union and by the time he was 18 he was branch minute secretary.

And he was as fit as a fiddle.

Apart from being a member of Norwich ABC cycling club, and many other clubs, he often played rugby for Norwich on a Saturday afternoon and football for LSE on a Sunday morning.

In those days the rugby boys were raising money for their new ground at Fifers Lane.

He played rugby for the city college until he was 40 and went on to be mini-rugby coach at Beeston Herne.

At work, by the time he was 27, after a lot of pushing from his workmates, he became a shop steward for the AEU and that led to a number of important union positions.

John also joined Norwich Labour Party, becoming Lakenham Ward chairman –tramping hundreds of miles across the wards of Lakenham, Town Close and Earlham with members of his family at election times. In 1965, at the age of 38, he was voted a labour councillor for the Earlham Ward – education was a passionate subject and he explained why: 'I had been an 11-plus failure at school, something which infuriated me and made me determined to get on to the education committee and help to reorganise the schools into comprehensives and so eliminating the hated 11-plus.'

After leaving politics John went on to join various committees, groups and organisations in and around Norwich. He served on hospital boards and helped people over housing issues and other problems for decades.He was chairman of the East Norwich Housing Committee and other committees to do with housing issues.

He was a great community power leader, helping to set up a tenant and resident association for Heartsease and Plumstead estates a few years ago. And he loved cycling which he did all his life and was a member of so many different groups over the years, taking part in time trails up to his 80th birthday. He was a life member of British Cyling.

John is survived by his 80 year old wife Joan. They were married a little over 30 years. There are two children, Susan and Harold, and five grandchildren.

John's funeral service is at St Faiths Crematorium on Friday at 10.15am