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Former Cornard Parish Council chairman, Sudbury magistrate and educator, Grace Farrant, remembered as ‘force of nature’ following death aged 93

A well-known former educator, magistrate and parish council chairman, whose contributions to her community saw a local road named in her honour, has died at the age of 93.

Long-time Sudbury and Great Cornard resident Grace Farrant was remembered as a ‘force of nature’ with a passion for education and her community, ahead of her funeral service at the end of the month.

Over half a century, she became a familiar face across the Sudbury area, with senior teaching roles at the local high schools, and 34 years on the bench at Sudbury Magistrates’ Court.

Pictured in 2012, Grace Farrant holds a programme from the 1948 London Olympics, and tickets for the 2012 Games
Pictured in 2012, Grace Farrant holds a programme from the 1948 London Olympics, and tickets for the 2012 Games

She also helped set up the Cornard branch of the Labour Party in 1961, and became chairman of Cornard Parish Council in 1964, playing a key part in the foundation of the Stevenson Centre.

In addition, she was part of the Sudbury Amateur Dramatic Society, and, in later life, helped raise more than £20,000 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

For her service to Great Cornard, Grace Farrant Road was formally dedicated at the village’s new Woodland Rise development – a recognition her son, William, said she was always very proud of.

William told SuffolkNews: “She was very much part of the community in Great Cornard.

“Some might describe her as a bit of a force of nature. She worked hard for the community and was always doing something new.

“It shows the longevity of how she was thought of in Great Cornard. She retired in 2000, and 15 or 16 years later, the road was named after her and people still remembered her, so she had quite a legacy.”

Born in Egypt to an Armenian mother, Marie, and a British father, George, she moved far and wide as a child, due to her dad’s military service, before eventually returning to the UK and settling in Dagenham.

She met future husband, Bill, who was from Haverhill, at University College London, and after they married, the couple moved to Sudbury in the 1950s.

Having studied French at UCL and become fluent, Mrs Farrant taught languages at Sudbury Girls’ High School, followed by Sudbury Upper School.

William explained that his mother was always a keen linguist, learning Russian to teach her students at A-level standard, and even passing a GCSE in Italian well into retirement.

Mrs Farrant also served as a justice of the peace at the town’s magistrates’ court between 1966 and 2000, including a spell as chairman of the bench, as well as chairing the Suffolk Magistrates’ Association.

“It was said that, if youngsters hadn’t seen her in school, they might have seen her in court, if they got into trouble,” said William.

“She was a very well-known lady in the town, and really dedicated to her working life as a teacher and justice of the peace.

“In between her hectic life, she was also a very busy mum. I think that is how I will remember her – always active, particularly to help others.”