Ipswich: Remembering Russell, a gentleman of politics

IPSWICH: He touched the lives of everyone he met – and today politicians and others from his home town were united in paying tribute to veteran Tory Russell Harsant who has died after a battle against cancer.

Everyone loved Mr Harsant, of Salisbury Road, who died peacefully at St Elizabeth Hospice with his family close by.

The 78-year-old was a member of both the borough and county council – he was a former leader of the Conservative group on Ipswich council.

At the county, his passing was marked by the flag flying at half mast.

His wife, Liz, was leader of the borough until last May and she contacted the Star to thank wellwishers. She said she and her daughters Samantha and Rachael had been overwhelmed by the support they had received.

She said: “Russell was such a well-loved person in the town I should not really be surprised, but the messages that have been coming in show how much people thought of him.”

Mr Harsant had been suffering from cancer for some time, but it had got much worse during the closing months of last year.

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He was admitted to the St Elizabeth Hospice last week, and he died in the early hours of yesterday.

Mrs Harsant said: “I cannot speak highly enough of the people at the hospice. They were wonderful. They don’t only look after the person who is the patient, they look after the whole family. My daughters and I have been very well looked after by them.

“I had to return to the hospice yesterday morning. I thought that would be difficult but the staff there made it much easier for us all.

“I suppose I am in a bit of a state of shock, but Russell has been suffering over the last few weeks and at least that has come to an end.”

Mr Harsant, who went to Northgate Grammar School, was a retired building surveyor.

His funeral will take place on Tuesday, February 7, at St Mary-le-Tower church, starting at 11am.