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Tributes paid to Sapiston’s ‘incredible’ oldest resident

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Sydney Thurlow, from Sapiston, who has passed away aged 96. Picture from Bryan Thurlow. ANL-150112-115309001
Sydney Thurlow, from Sapiston, who has passed away aged 96. Picture from Bryan Thurlow. ANL-150112-115309001

Tributes have been paid to Sapiston’s ‘incredible’ and ‘well respected’ oldest resident, who passed away last month aged 96.

Sydney Thurlow was born in 1919 in the old Fox pub in Honington and spent most of his life living in the neighbouring villages, playing an active role in both communties.

Known as ‘Mr Honington’ or ‘Mr Sapiston’, he spent 65 years serving as a parish councillor for the villages’ joint council and was a church warden in Honington for more than 40 years, as well as running a successful family business.

His son Bryan Thurlow described his late father as an ‘incredible’ and ‘very community-minded’ man.

“He was extremely active in mind and body, he couldn’t wait to get out of bed in the morning,” said Bryan.

“He liked to keep himself busy and very often it was helping other people. He was a real country man.”

Sydney completed military service in World War Two and moved back to Honington after marrying wife Cicely, with whom he had three children.

Following a carpentry apprenticeship in Coney Weston he set up a building and undertaking business in Honington, which was involved in constructing many homes in the area.

He left another lasting legacy, placing benches in ‘strategic spots’ around Honington and Sapiston.

In 2009, he was invited to receive Maundy money from the Queen in St Edmundsbury Cathedral for his services to the area and the local churches, for which Bryan said his father felt ‘very privileged and proud’.

In 2004 Sydney published a small book entitled Village Life and Folk Remembered, drawing on his intimate knowledge of Honington and Sapiston.

Of his father’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the area, Bryan said: “The parish council still consulted him about various aspects of the village. Even after he retired he was well respected.”

Rob Williams, chairman of Honington cum Sapiston Parish Council, said: “If we wanted to know anything in respect to the history of the village, we would ask Syd about it.

“He was well liked and was very active until very recently. He was a quiet man who knew many things about the history of the village.”

After retiring in his early 60s Sydney drew on his life’s trade to build his own bungalow, where he spent his retirement.

In his personal life one of his great loves was gardening, with Cllr Williams describing him as an ‘avid gardener’.

Bryan said: “He was a great gardener, he was digging a few strips in his vegetable patch every day even at the age of 96.”

Livestock was Sydney’s other great interest. At various points in his life he reared calves, kept chickens to sell eggs, managed a piggery, and had a contract to supply rabbits, a popular food in the 1960s, to Sainsbury’s. He also kept sheep well into his 90s.

Bryan said: “He was the proverbial plate-spinner, it was just incredible. He was a very industrious man.”

Sydney’s funeral will take place at 1.45pm tomorrow, Wednesday December 2, at St Andrew’s Church in Sapiston.