‘He was an amazing man and father’ - family’s tribute to former Diss mayor Harold Rackham

Harold Rackham.
Harold Rackham.

The family of former Diss mayor Harold Rackham say they have been “truly humbled” by messages of support following his death.

Mr Rackham, who was 74, died last week. He leaves his wife of 48 years, Sandra.

Harold Rackham.

Harold Rackham.

A fourth generation builder, he was town mayor and had two separate spells as a town councillor, spanning nearly 30 years.

He was a Master Builder of Diss, building and maintaining many of the town’s properties. He was a director of G N Rackham and Sons Ltd Builders and Funeral Directors, H L Perfitt Ltd and Roy Allen Engineering, as well as founding Home and Farm Supplies and Rackham’s Building Supplies.

His daughter Rachel said he was a “proud father” keen to pass on his business acumen to his children.

“We have been truly humbled by the sheer volume of cards and messages that convey just how many people feel grateful for how Dad helped them and their families,” said Rachel.

We have been truly humbled by the sheer volume of cards and messages that convey just how many people feel grateful for how Dad helped them and their families

“We had no idea how many people he had supported to start on the housing ladder, given a job when no one else would, and how many people he mentored – from those who were homeless or in the throes of addiction to those who needed advice on starting a business – acts that were not for show, but were done quietly and upheld his Christian principles.

“To us children, he has always been an amazing man, but to find out and start to piece together everything he has done over his lifetime, we just can’t see how he managed to fit this all in.”

Having lived his early years at the converted Water Tower in Roydon, Mr Rackham moved to Fair Green, where he spent all his working life. His trade was as a carpenter and joiner.

When he was 17, he was selected for a special award as one of the top five of 300 students at Norwich City College, graduating with first class honours.

At one stage, he was the President of the Federation of Master Builders, Mayor of Diss and Corps Sergeant Major at the Diss Salvation Army – all at the same time.

He supported many local charities, was an original member of Diss Chamber of Trade, which later became Diss Business Forum, and he served on the committee up until December.

Diss Town Council leader Graham Minshull described Mr Rackham as an “institution” of the town.

“He always had the town at heart,” he said. “Everybody knew him. He was a really nice chap – a genuinely nice person.

“He was always polite and helpful. And he had a dry sense of humour.

“Sometimes, you would not know if he was kidding or being serious – he would say something and wait a few seconds – and he would smile, and you would know he was pulling your leg.

“He did an awful lot of stuff for the town, which he did for free, which saved the town lots of money.

“He would make sure that the projects were up to the proper standards and were costed correctly.

“He will be missed.”

Diss Town Council also paid tribute to Mr Rackham’s service to Diss – hailing him as a “generous” man.

“The town council was so sorry to hear of the death of Harold Rackham. He served for many years on the town council, as well as being town mayor between 1993 and 1994.

“As well as the projects he initiated whilst on the town council, Harold was a generous man – one such example of this is the land he donated to the town council at the sports ground on Shelfanger Road, regularly used by a number of community groups and sports clubs.

“In acknowledgement for his achievements, both on the council and as devoted supporter of the local business community, the town council awarded Harold Honoured Citizen of Diss at its annual town meeting in May.

“Our sincere condolences are with his family and friends at this difficult time. “

Mr Rackham’s funeral service, a celebration of his life, will take place at the Salvation Army Hall, Sunnyside, in Diss on Saturday, July 22, followed by a private burial at Diss Cemetery. No mourning or black.

By his request, there will be a party in the evening at Blooms of Bressingham, for family friends and business associates, along with their families. Entry is by service sheet.

Pay your tributes to Mr Rackham by emailing them to editorial@dissexpress.co.uk.