Politician priest dies suddenly

TRIBUTES have been paid to Hereward Cooke, a much-loved priest in the region and former deputy leader of Norwich City Council, who died suddenly after cycling to the Copenhagen climate conference.

TRIBUTES have been paid to Hereward Cooke, a much-loved priest in the city and former deputy leader of Norwich City Council, who died suddenly after cycling to the Copenhagen climate conference.

The Bishop of Norwich and political leaders led the praise for the 70-year-old, who died in his sleep in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

He had cycled 150 miles across Denmark to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, to raise money for charity and to lend his support for action to be taken to combat global warming.

His sudden death shocked people across Norwich, where Canon Cooke was hugely well-known from his work with the church and as a Norwich City councillor.

On the day before his death Canon Cooke had spent the day exploring Copenhagen and just days before had managed to get a place in the city's cathedral to hear Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, preach.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, said: “Hereward Cooke was widely loved and appreciated, as a pastoral priest, an industrial chaplain, a Norwich City Councillor and, most recently as our diocesan environmental officer.”

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Canon Cooke arrived in Norwich in 1989 as Diocesan Industrial Missioner and as team vicar in the parish of St Peter Parmentergate with St John, Timberhill, and he became senior industrial chaplain and rural dean of Norwich East in 1993.

Over a period of 15 years, he acted as chaplain to a number of companies, including Eastern Counties Newspapers (now Archant), Colman's, Norwich Union (now Aviva), Anglia Television and Marks and Spencer.

In 1997 he was made an Honorary Canon of Norwich Cathedral. His other roles included assistant priest of St Peter Mancroft and priest-in-charge of St Stephen's, Norwich.

In 2000, he became involved in politics as city councillor for the Lakenham ward, went on to be deputy leader of the council when the Lib Dems were in power and then leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on the city council, before he stepped down last year.

Earlier this year he moved from his home in Bracondale, Norwich, with his wife, Diana, to Blakeney where he continued to minister and took up the role of diocesan environmental officer.

It was in this capacity that he was in Copenhagen at the time of his death, with a team of 25 campaigners for a 150 mile fundraising cycle ride on behalf of Christian Aid.

Canon Cooke is survived by Diana, and their son, Arthur, and daughter, Frances. Funeral arrangements have yet to be made.

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