'He lived and breathed Norwich' - Glowing tributes to Dr Ian Gibson
- Credit: Archant 2002
Heartfelt tributes have been paid to former Norwich MP Dr Ian Gibson, who has died at the age of 82.
Dr Gibson was a Labour Party politician who was Norwich North MP for more than a decade, serving from 1997 to 2009, when he resigned.
Born September 1938, in Dumfries, Scotland, he graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a science degree in genetics and a doctorate before continuing his studies in the United States of America.
He later moved to Norfolk and, in 1965, began working at the University of East Anglia where he remained for more than three decades. Initially working as a scientist, he became a senior biology lecturer in 1971, then dean of the School of Biological Sciences in 1991, and an honorary professor in 2003.
As dean, he was the head of a research team investigating cancer and was awarded a Champion Award by Macmillan Cancer Relief for his work supporting people with cancer.
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During the 1960s, he became a keen amateur footballer and played for Wymondham Town Football Club as a left back and its captain. Later, he would go on to be the coach of the cross-party parliamentary football team.
He joined the Labour Party in 1983 and unsuccessfully contested Norwich North at the 1992 General Election, where he was defeated by the sitting Conservative MP Patrick Thompson. He was later elected to the House of Commons at the 1997 General Election and remained MP there until his resignation in 2009.
He suffered a minor stroke in September 2004 and called on stroke support in the community to be prioritised within the health service in a similar way to how support for cancer patients has.
Mike Stonard, president of Norwich Labour Party, confirmed the news of Dr Gibson's death on Friday, April 9.
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He said: "This is such sad news. Ian Gibson was a friend and a champion of the Norwich Labour movement over many decades.
"Throughout his life, Ian was a tenacious, committed campaigner and consistent advocate for his constituents, with a passion for promoting science and health.
"Throughout our city, generations of Norwich people have benefited from his zeal for promoting social justice and the encouragement and courage he gave to those who also campaigned for a better city.
"He will be sorely missed by those who knew him. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.”
Former MP for Norwich South and Labour Party politician, Charles Clarke, paid tribute to his colleague. They began serving as MPs during the same year.
He said: "Ian Gibson's sad death is shocking. He was a passionate defender of Norwich and its people.
"Though from time to time we had our political differences, it was a pleasure to serve together with him as MPs for the city from 1997. He brought to politics a real understanding of science and its contribution to our civilisation and fought to promote its importance in public debate.
"He will be much missed.”
And Clive Lewis, the current Labour MP for Norwich South, described him as a "much-loved figure".
He added: “This is awful news and my immediate thoughts are with Ian’s family for their sad loss.
“Ian lived and breathed Norwich, the city he represented for more than a decade as one of its two MPs.
“A much-loved figure on the city’s political scene long after he stood down as an MP, he was admired for his humour, cutting wit, but also his steadfast political conviction as a socialist.
“He will be sorely missed but he leaves behind a legacy of someone always prepared to speak up for our city and those without a voice. I will miss him.”
Dr Gibson was a true city character, who cared passionately about Norwich and the many causes he fought for in the city.
He leaves behind his wife, Elizabeth Frances Lubbock, who he married in 1976. He had three daughters, Dominique, Helen and Ruth, who died in 1993.
- To view all our obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost.