Tributes paid to former college head

TRIBUTES were today paid to the former Head of the School of Building at Ipswich Civic College, Percy Fern, who has died aged 96.Percival Fern was born at Napton-on-the-Hill, near Rugby in Warwickshire, on December 8 1911.

TRIBUTES were today paid to the former Head of the School of Building at Ipswich Civic College, Percy Fern, who has died aged 96.

Percival Fern was born at Napton-on-the-Hill, near Rugby in Warwickshire, on December 8 1911.

He became an apprentice carpenter to a local firm of builders and soon began work as handicraft instructor at Kerrison Approved School at Thorndon, near Eye.

He married wife, Audrey, at Calvert Street Methodist Church, Norwich, on December 27 1936.

The couple moved to their first home in Dunstable, where Mr Fern worked for a specialist plastics company.

He was also a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service during the war.

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He was awarded gold medals for woodwork and metalwork by the Society of Handicraft Teachers and was a fellow of both the Institute of Builders and the Guild of Carpenters.

In 1957 he was appointed Head of the School of Building at the newly created Ipswich Civic College. He retired from the College in 1972.

His son, Roger, who was Mayor of Ipswich from 2004-2005, paid homage to his father.

He said: “He was a splendid father who was always interested in the achievements of his family. He was proud and supportive during the year I was Mayor of Ipswich. Sadly he was not able to attend any events because by that stage he was confined to a wheelchair and was not keen to go out.

“However, he wanted to hear about what was happening and the people we met, especially the ones he knew as well, so he enjoyed it in a vicarious kind of way.”

Mr Fern was a skilled musician learning to play learned to play the bugle as a child. He later became a proficient cornet player and learned to play the French horn soon after arriving in Ipswich.

He played regularly with Ipswich Orchestral Society, local ensemble Trianon, Gilbert and Sullivan and other groups.

In the last 10 years he had become frail and died peacefully at Norwood Methodist Home in Park Road, Ipswich, aged 96. A funeral service at Ipswich crematorium will be held on April 7 and donations to Norwood Methodist Home are welcomed by Mr Fern's family.