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Late Great Wratting publican commemorated with bench



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A lasting tribute has been officially dedicated in Great Wratting to a man considered by many to be a 'local 'legend' and a 'great supporter' of the village.

On Saturday, November 13 about 30 people gathered at St Mary's Churchyard in the village, just a few miles from Haverhill, for a short dedication ceremony, conducted by Father Chris Giles, for a bench that bears the name of George Sykes.

A plaque on the bench reads: "In fond memory of George Sykes (1950-2021), a generous supporter of the village of Great Wratting."

Members of George Sykes' family, including his widow Linda (seated left), friends and villagers of Great Wratting at the bench in the churchyard. Picture by Mark Westley
Members of George Sykes' family, including his widow Linda (seated left), friends and villagers of Great Wratting at the bench in the churchyard. Picture by Mark Westley

George died from prostate cancer on March 5, at the age of 70.

He had, along with his wife Linda, ran the Red Lion, the village's only pub, for 20 years until retiring in 2018.

It was his commitment to helping the village over those years that motivated Great Wratting Parish Council to agree to provide the bench in his name.

The inscription on the plaque on the bench dedicated to George Sykes. Picture by Mark Westley
The inscription on the plaque on the bench dedicated to George Sykes. Picture by Mark Westley

Parish councillor Barry Judge, who has spent some six months organising the bench, its installation and the ceremony, said: "George was a great supporter of everything in the village, particularly the village fete.

"I spoke to the vicar the other day and he said it was the single biggest fund-raiser for the church and George was always very generous, donating a barrel of beer and raffle prizes.

"He is a bit of a local legend. That sums him up. He was a bit of a local legend and a local character."

The late George Sykes behind the bar at the Red Lion, in Great Wratting.
The late George Sykes behind the bar at the Red Lion, in Great Wratting.

George's family - he had three children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren - had requested, added Mr Judge, that the bench be placed in the churchyard so it could be near where his ashes are buried.

“We are touched by this kind gesture," George’s family said of the bench.

Father Chris Giles conducting the service of dedication for the bench at St Mary's Church. Picture by Mark Westley.
Father Chris Giles conducting the service of dedication for the bench at St Mary's Church. Picture by Mark Westley.

“As you may know, George was not one to be seated for long but would happily serve those with a joke or song whilst they sat and enjoyed a drink.

“We hope the bench will be a place for all those passing by to collect their thoughts and be at peace for a time.”