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Town pays tribute to popular MP

PUBLISHED: 15:30 31 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:46 03 March 2010

FAMILY, friends, and colleagues of Ipswich MP Jamie Cann gathered today for the Civic Memorial service for the popular politician who died earlier this month.

FAMILY, friends, and colleagues of Ipswich MP Jamie Cann gathered today for the Civic Memorial service for the popular politician who died earlier this month.

The town's Civic Church, St. Mary le Tower, was packed for the lunchtime service.

Speakers representing many different aspects of Mr Cann's life in the town paid tribute to his work, and his determination to fight for the ordinary people of the town.

Lessons were read by Teresa Marrable, chair of the governors of Handford Hall school where Mr Cann was a teacher for 25 years, and by former mayor Albert Grant.

Mr Cann's life in the town was summed up by a number of speakers including his son, Andrew, Ipswich Council chief executive James Hehir and by government chief whip Hilary Armstrong.

Another tribute was given by Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover – the MP wrote a column for the Evening Star from his first days at Westminster.

Mr Pickover told the congregation: "For a man who strode the corridors of high power, Jamie Cann never lost sight of the things that meant most to him, his beloved family and his constituents.

"When his party was desperately trying to fight its way out of the political wilderness, Jamie began a crusade for the ordinary folk, for those who found it hard to fight for themselves.

"And when his party swept to power - with Jamie himself enjoying a landslide general election victory - this honest, genuine and accomplished politician didn't get lulled into the world of power games and spin.

"In a world of political media management, Jamie told the story as he saw it - and didn't mind if his opinions didn't fit the bill of that particular day.

"The man I knew liked straight-talking. His view was that this was the best way to get at the truth.

So he maintained a delightful common touch, both in opposition - and when his party formed the government."

Mr Pickover recalled social events which Mr Cann enjoyed.

"Jamie was a charismatic chuckler, a great raconteur, a brilliant historian. A room with Jamie in it, was a room that was alive. A place where laughter was an ever-present friend."

And he remembered his fight for the underdog.

"Whether fighting a campaign, or at his popular surgeries on a Saturday morning, Jamie was at ease with his people, his ever-present Rosie and, most importantly, with himself," Mr Pickover said.

"His campaigns were driven by his acute sense of right and wrong. He was someone prepared to do something about the injustices of life.

"Whether he was saving a hospital, or an ambulance service, or fighting a constituent' corner, Jamie was prepared to get his hands dirty."

Deputy mayor of Ipswich Don Edwards told the congregation about Mr Cann's work at the council.

"He has left a lasting legacy on the town – he devoted 30 years of his life to public service and if you look around the town you can see what he has done for Ipswich," he said.

Tolly Cobbold boss Bob Wales paid tribute to Mr Cann's work to support businesses in the town – the MP gave invaluable support when the brewery was saved in the mid-1990s.

And there was also a tribute from Ipswich Witches boss John Louis – Mr Cann played a leading role in the Save Our Speedway campaign in 1996 which saved the sport at the Foxhall Stadium.

Former council leader and Co-op executive Bill Knowles paid tribute to Mr Cann's work for the town, and there was also a tribute from former chief constable Stuart Whiteley.

But perhaps the most poignant was the last tribute – from Mr Cann's son Andrew.

Not only did Mr Cann's untimely death rob his family of a husband and father, it also meant that he never saw his first grandchild, Ethan, who was born the day after he passed away.

The service was conducted by Rev. Peter Townley, rural dean of Ipswich, and was including the hymns Abide With Me, Jerusalem, and Now Thank We All Our God.

People at the service were being invited to sign a Book of Condolence and a collection was being taken in support of the church and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

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