Former Ipswich mayor Roger Fern dies aged 77

Roger Fern

Former Ipswich Mayor Roger Fern has died. - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Former Ipswich mayor Roger Fern - who had a huge impact on life in the town over four decades - has died after suffering from cancer for many years.

Mr Fern, who was approaching his 78th birthday, was a headteacher of four primary schools in the Ipswich area and an education advisor for Suffolk County Council before he was elected to the borough council in 2002.

Mr Fern's professional life was devoted to education and he led the transformation of further education in the Ipswich area.

He was also a dedicated campaigner against homelessness - and worked hard to make life easier for those caught up in the spiral of street-drinking and drugs.

Over recent years he was also a keen campaigner to help those with dementia and their families - a very personal crusade after his wife Pat was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2010.

Roger and Pat Fern

Roger Fern with his wife Pat during his first term as Ipswich Mayor. - Credit: Archant

After qualifying as a teacher in 1965 he taught at Kesgrave High School before becoming headteacher of Witnesham Primary. He then became head of Sprites Junior, St Helen's Primary and Sidegate Primary in Ipswich before becoming an adviser and inspector to Suffolk County Council.

He was elected to Ipswich Borough Council in 2002 after retiring from full-time teaching - but retained an interest in education throughout his life. 

Roger Fern

Roger Fern was elected to Ipswich Council in 2002. - Credit: Ipswich Labour Party

He became a governor of several schools and was chair of the corporation of Suffolk New College for nearly eight years from 2013 to the start of this year - he had been deputy chair for four years before then and was one of the driving forces of its creation and construction of its modern building in the early 2000s.

He was twice mayor of Ipswich - in 2004/5 and in 2016/17 - and during both mayoralties education was at the heart of his term of office, but so was his concern about the homeless in the town.

Roger Fern becomes mayor

Roger Fern became Ipswich Mayor for a second time in 2016. - Credit: Su Anderson

He was a trustee of IHAG's Chapman Centre which provided support for homeless people - and gave them a roof over their heads.

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During his second mayoral term he was supported by his granddaughter Ellie Griss, who was his consort because his wife was too unwell - and raised more than £20,000 for IHAG and the Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance.

Roger Fern

Roger Fern speaking at a event aimed at making Ipswich Dementia Friendly in 2018. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Fern was, for many years, a season ticket holder at Portman Road - and a love of football ran in his blood.

He was the nephew of former FIFA President Sir Stanley Rous who was in charge of the organisation when England hosted - and won - the World Cup in 1966.

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