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Tributes to inspirational Norwich hospital fundraiser

PUBLISHED: 09:13 30 August 2012

David Bunn receives his Civic Award at City Hall.

David Bunn receives his Civic Award at City Hall.

A Norwich man who raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to brighten the lives of sick children has been described as an "inspiration".

David Bunn, who died at his home in George Borrow Road on Saturday from renal failure and a stroke, was first motivated to raise money for the children’s ward while working at the old Norfolk and Norwich Hospital as a theatre porter.

Family of the 72-year-old estimate that he raised more than £600,000 over nearly three decades, an achievement that was recognised in 1993 with an invitation to the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace, a City of Norwich Civic Award and a Pioneer of the City Award at the Evening News Local Heroes in 2004.

His wife of 53 years, Jenny, said it was while wheeling his young patients down to the operating theatre that he first decided he wanted to raise some money to improve their stay at the hospital.

Mrs Bunn, 72, said: “It all started with walks. He walked from Land’s End to Norwich and from Great Ormond Street to Norwich and there was a bed push to Wymondham.

“We had such lovely parties up at the hospital and we would spend quite a lot on every child for a present, getting them from Kerrisons and wrapping them up.

“There was this little girl Gemma and he got really friendly with her mum and dad. They used to go for bike rides, but Gemma couldn’t go so he bought her a tandem.”

Trips to the seaside and a trip to see his beloved horse racing at Newmarket were among the outings he organised for young patients.

Mr Bunn, who was born in Norwich and attended Wensum View School, spent time in the Navy before trying his hand at a range of trades and jobs. He joined the hospital in the early 1970s, working first as a floor cleaner and then as a theatre porter.

He battled on with his fundraising, tirelessly writing to household names to ask for donations, receiving items from celebrities such as Bob Hoskins and Robbie Coltrane.

But he had his own battle with ill health, and a heart attack in the mid-90s, followed by a triple bypass, forced him into early retirement from the job he loved.

He continued to fundraise but when his sight failed, leaving him blind in one eye and partially-sighted in the other, he had to slow down.

For the last eight years he had also been receiving dialysis three times a week at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s Jack Pryor Unit, and what money he was able to continue to raise was also donated to the unit.

His wife said: “He used to call it his second home. The staff there were marvellous and we owe them a lot.”

Mr Bunn, who lived in Kinghorn Road for many years before moving to George Borrow Road 11 years ago, also leaves behind two children - Gary, 46, and Sarah Gaffer, 41 - eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Mrs Gaffer said: “He had been ill for years but fought all this while for us.

“He was an inspiration to everyone who knew him. He was a peacemaker and he always believed in giving people a second chance.”

Friend David Morrice, 68, of Caister-on-Sea, said: “I got to know him about 1990 and we became firm friends. Only a fortnight ago I phoned him up and we had a good old chin-wag.

“I’ve been through the wars myself with cancer but David was always an inspiration for me, he used to say that in life there was always someone worse off than you.

“He was real salt of the earth and would help anybody. He had no airs and graces about him.”

Beth Coley, fundraising manager at the N&N, said: “David was a dedicated fundraiser for the hospital who made a substantial contribution to our charities. He will be remembered by staff and patients for his tireless efforts on their behalf.”

Mr Bunn’s funeral will be held at 2.30pm on Monday, September 10, at Earlham Burial Chapel at Earlham Cemetery.

Flowers to John D Brown Funeral Services in North Walsham Road by 10am, but Mr Bunn’s wish was for donations for the Jack Pryor Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. All are welcome afterwards at Cadge Road Community Centre.

Do you have a tribute story? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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