Diss Honoured Citizen Award split between two former councillors who have done an ‘awful lot’ for the town

Beth Dewhurst (left) and Harold Rackham (right) are presented the Diss Honoured Citizen Award by town mayor Mike Bardwell. Photo: Diss Town Council.
Beth Dewhurst (left) and Harold Rackham (right) are presented the Diss Honoured Citizen Award by town mayor Mike Bardwell. Photo: Diss Town Council.
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The Diss Honoured Citizen Award was presented to both Elizabeth Dewhurst and Harold Rackham by town mayor Mike Bardwell.

It was an incredibly close decision because they have done an awful lot for the town

Diss Town Council Leader Graham Minshull

He told visitors they were “worthy winners” and thanked them for everything they have done for the town.

Ms Dewhurst served the town council for 10 years until 2015, chaired the Highways and Tourism and Leisure committees, and was involved with a host of local groups.

She was a member of the Christmas Lights committee and is the current chair of the Town Guide committee, started the original youth council, and set up the Diss RiverCare Group.

Ms Dewhurst, who moved to the town 25 years ago, said: “I am obviously tremendously grateful to receive this and I would like to say a huge thank you to councillors and staff.

“I have been really privileged to work with dedicated, talented and inspirational people and I am pleased to continue working with these groups.

“I think it is fair to say serving the town council and being involved in local groups has taught me the value of community.

“I thought Diss was the kind of town where people got together and did things and in general, it is a friendly town.”

Mr Rackham, who has lived in Diss all of his life and is a fourth generation builder, was praised as a “constant supporter of local business” throughout his career.

He was mayor of Diss twice, and served in two separate spells as a town councillor, spanning nearly 30 years.

Mr Rackham was an original member of the Diss Chamber of Trade, which later became the Diss Business Forum, supported many local charities, and still performs as a member of the town’s Salvation Army band.

“I would like to thank my family and my wife (Sandra Rackham) because I could not have done these things without the support of her,” he said.

“As I said, I don’t do things for this sort of thing. I like to work in the background.

“I am very proud to receive it.”

Diss Town Council Leader Graham Minshull also paid tribute to Ms Dewhurst and Mr Rackham.

“It was an incredibly close decision because they have done an awful lot for the town.

“With Harold, a lot of people don’t realise he takes in people who are homeless and gives them a roof over their head.

“These are people ordinary landlords would not touch, but he gives them a chance to rebuild their lives. He is a very modest guy.

“Beth throws herself into everything we do.

“If you say to her we have something going on, she will do it.

“She deserves this award.”

The annual town meeting, held at the United Reformed Church, in Mere Street, gave residents the chance to find out more about local groups and organisations, including Park Radio and Diss Fest, and the Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan.

There was also a question and answer session with Mr Bardwell, Mr Minshull, and town clerk Deborah Sarson.

A range of subjects were discussed – including the move of the Tourist Information Centre into the renovated Corn Hall, the traffic management system in Frenze Road and Frenze Hall Lane, and the cutting down of the tree in Willbye Avenue.

Scole’s Duncan Slater, who recently became the first double-leg amputee to complete the gruelling Marathon des Sables ultramarthon, was also nominated for the Honoured Citizen Award.

But a council spokesperson said he would be honoured with a special award later this year.

And there was not any nominations for the Junior Good Citizen Award, last year won by Owen Leeder, which Mr Bardwell described as “disappointing”.

Mr Minshull added: “It is a shame because I think personally we have some fantastic youth in the town.”

He said the council would look at the award ahead of next year’s annual town meeting.