Heartfelt tributes to 'caring' Hadleigh grandad who saved hundreds of lives

Terry Powell, who has died at the age of 77, has been described as a huge "family man", by his wife of 55 years, Gloria. 

Terry Powell, who has died at the age of 77, has been described as a huge "family man", by his wife of 55 years, Gloria. - Credit: St John's Ambulance

A grandad from Hadleigh, who co-founded the town's community first responders group and indirectly saved hundreds of lives, has died after a nine-year cancer battle aged 77.  

Terry Powell, who was passionate about his work as a first aider, has been described by his wife Gloria of more than 55 years as a devoted family man after his death on January 11.  

Mr Powell, originally from Kent, had a host of careers in his life - but was more recently known for being a co-founding member of Hadleigh Community First Responders group, as well as working in conjunction with St John’s Ambulance and the ambulance service. 

The Hadleigh Community First Responders group was one of the first to be established in Suffolk, with Mr Powell later helping to deliver training programmes in Elmsett, Boxford and Glemsford.  

Born in 1943 in Bromley, Kent, Mr Powell was the youngest of seven children. 

He always had a passion for airplanes and, as a child, he would cycle with his friend to Biggin Hill and watch the planes go by. 

At 15, he joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) and met his wife Gloria at the age of 20 over the bar of a youth club in 1963, while he was working as a leader at RAF Honington. 

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Mrs Powell fondly remembers having a Coca-Cola at the bar and, after two years of courting, the pair married in 1965. 

Mr Powell moved to RAF St Mawgan, in Cornwall, before being posted to RAF Wattisham in 1971. 

He bought a house in Hadleigh and remained there ever since, becoming a committed member of the community and bringing up three children who gave him four grandchildren.   

On leaving the RAF, Mr Powell worked for the Prudential and became someone to confide in and helped those who grieved when they lost loved ones.  

Mrs Powell said her husband was "caring, loving, and very family-orientated", adding his family was his life. 

"He never complained throughout his illness, he always kept the pain from us,” she said.  

"He was a complete perfectionist, a true gentleman and my soulmate." 

Mr Powell’s first involvement with the Hadleigh St John's Ambulance division was in helping with the maintenance of the ambulance. He later became a committed member, doing numerous duties and becoming a first aid trainer. 

He loved this role and was respected by the community, Girlguiding, Scouts, local schools and Wattisham Air Training Cadets (ATC) for all the thorough training he gave and for making it an interesting experience at the same time. 

Many people have gone on to use these skills and also become nurses and paramedics from Mr Powell inspiring them to pursue their skills and interests. 

In 2003, Mr Powell set up the Hadleigh Community First Responders group with Andrew Barlow - who is now the community response manager for the East of England Ambulance Service - and fellow St John's Ambulance trainer David Grant. 

Mr Barlow said Mr Powell was the first person to volunteer to be a community first responder after noticing an advert in the East Anglian Daily Times.  

At this point there was no programme in place for training new recruits, so Mr Powell and Mr Barlow, who was a paramedic at the time, put some together and delivered the programme, setting up groups in Elmsett, Boxford and Glemsford among many others.  

Mr Powell had to step down as a responder in recent years due to his declining health, but was an active member of the group for many years.  

Mr Barlow described his former colleague and friend as a "caring and compassionate man, who always had a listening ear". 

"Nothing flustered Terry, he was always really calm and he always saw the best in people. He was a very caring man," he said.  

Mr Barlow said the co-founder, who was also a committed Christian and member of St Mary's Church, attended hundreds of first responder callouts over the years, saving countless lives.  

When he wasn't volunteering as a community first responder, Mr Powell enjoyed building large-scale radio-controlled airplanes which he flew at Raydon, as he was one of the founding members of the Raydon and District Model Aircraft Club. 

He also used to go to air shows and was a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), and was a keen boxer back in his RAF days.  

Mrs Powell said she has received more than 150 cards and emails describing her husband as "a true English gentleman", who was loved and respected by all in so many different ways.  

She said: "If only he had known how much he was thought of when he was alive." 

Trevor Sheldrick, coordinator for Hadleigh Community First Responders, added: "Terry was an important part of the history of our group and it’s fair to say that without his drive and enthusiasm, ours would not have been one of the first groups to be established in Suffolk. 

"Through that one simple act, Terry has been indirectly responsible for saving many lives in Hadleigh." 

In honour of Mr Powell's memory, the group will be putting his name onto its responder car to thank him for his service. 

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