Town mourns for Ipswich's shining light

Shock at the news of Jim Hehir's death has been supplemented by warm memories of a “shining light” by those who worked alongside him.

IPSWICH: Shock at the news of Jim Hehir's death has been supplemented by warm memories of a “shining light” by those who worked alongside him.

The Ipswich Borough Council chief executive, who died suddenly on Tuesday, was described by colleagues, regardless of politics, as a friend who enriched the lives of people he knew in Ipswich and beyond.

Council leaders gathered at the town hall to sign a book of condolence and remember the 61-year-old, who spent 20 years leading the borough and stamping his mark on its extensive redevelopment.

Mr Hehir's long-term personal assistant, Felice Satalino, said she was both honoured and proud to have worked with him.

“I have received hundreds of messages from people all over the country,” she said.

“His influence can be seen all over Ipswich.”

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Mr Hehir worked closely with the leader of the council Liz Harsant, who said: “In my time as leader of the council, Jim was a friend and constant source of support.”

Labour group leader David Ellesmere added: “Everybody is devastated. He was a good chief executive who many regarded as a friend as well as a leader.

“It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with him. He had such an enormous energy and vision and what he achieved for Ipswich will be remembered for years to come.”

Lib Dem group leader Andrew Cann recalled Mr Hehir's vision for Ipswich's waterfront taking shape as early as 1989.

“Jim's passing has struck me as the end of an era in the evolution of Ipswich. He was foremost in making the town leap forward in a very positive and fruitful direction.

“His popularity is reflected by the huge groundswell of feeling for him in Ipswich and beyond.”

Mayor of Ipswich, David Goldsmith, said: “What I'll really remember about Jim, apart form all he did for the town, is that he was caring and had time for everyone he met.

“We're all going to miss him.”

Pay tribute to Mr Hehir - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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