Former mayor Roger Fern honoured by Ipswich Buses

Roger Fern Name

Former mayor Roger Fern is remembered on the Ipswich Buses double decker. - Credit: Ipswich Buses

Former Ipswich mayor Roger Fern will be remembered on the streets of his home town after a bus was named after him to raise awareness of dementia.

Mr Fern, who died last month, was a long-standing campaigner for more support for dementia victims and their families - his wife Pat was diagnosed with the condition many years ago and now lives in a care home.

Ipswich Buses is marking Dementia Action Week by painting one of its double-decker buses in the branding of the campaign - and has named it Roger Fern  to mark his contribution to the town.

Roger Fern

Roger Fern was Ipswich mayor for the second time in 2016. - Credit: Su Anderson

As well as being mayor of Ipswich twice - in 2005 and 2016 - Mr Fern was also chairman of the corporation of Suffolk New College, was a trustee of the Chapman Centre which helped homeless people in the town, and before becoming a councillor was headteacher of several primary schools in the town.

His daughter Sue Burman said he would have loved the idea of having a bus named after him.

"He always wanted to drive a double-decker bus. He never had a chance to do that - but he would be thrilled at the idea of having one named after him. 

"And the fact that it's promoting Dementia Action Week is so appropriate - that was a campaign that was so important to him."

Roger Fern bus

The bus named in honour of former mayor Roger Fern. - Credit: Ipswich Buses

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Phil Smart was a colleague of Mr Fern's on the borough council and is a director of council-owned Ipswich Buses. He said: "Roger was a remarkable man. A great servant of Ipswich and a proud supporter of both its football team and its bus company.

"His tireless campaigning for dementia awareness and for better education leaves a lasting legacy for old and young alike. We are all very lucky that Roger shared his life with us and are better people for having known and worked with him.

"He would be proud to have a bus named after him but prouder still that it carries a message about dementia awareness"

Mr Fern's funeral service and cremation on Friday is private - for family and close friends only because of Covid restrictions - but his funeral cortege will travel around the town driving past the schools where he was headteacher before it arrives at Ipswich Crematorium and then goes on to Chantry Methodist Church for a private service.

Ipswich Buses general manager Steve Bryce said:  “Sadly, I only had the pleasure of knowing Roger for a short time and was very saddened to learn that he had died. He was very passionate about raising awareness for dementia so that people who live with the illness could try to live a near normal live.

"We had been working together to roll out dementia awareness training to the drivers and supervisors at Ipswich Buses so we could be seen as a Dementia Friend and break down barriers by given people confidence to leave their home and use the bus, but sadly the pandemic delayed this programme.

“We had also planned to mark Dementia Action week in 2020 with a specially advertised bus but again the pandemic caused this week to be cancelled so I promised Roger we would try again in 2021.

"Sadly, the day I approved the graphics was the same day it was announced he had died. It’s been a long tradition at the company to name buses after notable local people so it seemed very fitting to pay tribute to Roger by naming bus 48 which will carry the adverting for Dementia Action Week after him, not just in recognition for his hard work raising awareness for dementia, but also for his two spells as mayor of our town and his lifelong commitment to the people of Ipswich”.