Touching tributes paid to 'kind-hearted' Ipswich council worker of 25 years

Former licencing enforcement officer for Ipswich Borough Council, Bob Bennett, was known in the town for always wearing his red fleece. 

Former licencing enforcement officer for Ipswich Borough Council, Bob Bennett, was known in the town for always wearing his red fleece. - Credit: Bennett family

A father-of-two and "gentle giant" who dedicated 17 years of his life to making Ipswich a safer place to be, has sadly died from cancer aged 71. 

Bob Bennett worked as a licencing enforcement officer for Ipswich Borough Council up until he retired in 2017. He was known and loved by many in the town for his "kind and genuine" nature, and was often seen wearing his big red fleece, which became his trademark jacket.

He sadly died on December 17, after spending the last six years being treated for an aggressive form of kidney cancer, leaving his friends and family heartbroken. 

Bob spent years working with the town's licensees, door supervisors, market traders and off-licences to ensure the town was as safe as possible. He was very focussed on upskilling door supervisors, putting on training and helping them get their licence. 

His partner of 23 years, Suzanne Williams, said Bob saw formal enforcement as failure, and instead tried to offer solutions to help people in the town.

She described Bob as her "soulmate", adding that he believed in her more than she ever did. 

"Bob loved life and he loved people," said Suzanne, 58, who met the father-of-two when also working for the council. 

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"The people he worked with in the town were his family and he was known and loved by everyone. He was such a kind and giving man."

Bob was originally from London but moved to Suffolk more than 30 years ago, buying a house in Boxford in 1971 and working for the council for more than 25 years. 

When he wasn't working or volunteering at events in the town, Bob enjoyed spending time with his two children, Hannah and Simon. He also adored cars and motorbikes, and alongside Suzanne he loved attending the Formula One races at Silverstone.

Suzanne said he was a very practical man, who first trained as an accountant and later worked for Ashdown Group, but also spent time as an estate manager at Heveningham Hall.

He was many people's "go-to" man and always went the extra mile to help others. 

During his time as a licencing enforcement officer for the council, Bob worked alongside police constable Ian Rafferty, who became a great friend. 

Ian said the pair forged a partnership between the two agencies to help deal with crime in and around the town.

The year before they both retired Bob was recognised for his work on a national scale when he was awarded the Jeremy Allen Award for Excellence in Licensing.

"Bob was the most generous, kind-hearted, and empathetic person I have ever known," said the former police officer. 

"He had an incredible work ethic and energy; he absolutely loved his job. 

"He was a super bloke and the work he did in licencing was incredible. It has not been the same without him since he retired, and he will be massively missed."

Bob Bennett, a father-of-two, sadly died just before Christmas.

Bob Bennett, a father-of-two, sadly died just before Christmas. - Credit: Bennett family

He was described as "one of the kindest souls you will ever meet", by his friend of 23 years, Ed Barnes, owner of Hopsters. 

Bob was Ed's first boss after leaving university, teaching him how to drive and becoming a fantastic father figure to him here in Suffolk with his parents living more than 200 miles away. 

"He was an incredible guy," said Ed. "His ethos was there was always space at his table, and he was incredibly kind. He was like a dad to me and a grandad to my children."

Bob leaves behind his partner Suzanne, two children Hannah and Simon, and all his extended friends and family here in Ipswich.  

They will be having a celebration of his life on Friday and hope to host a charity event in the summer to raise further money for Marie Curie.

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