Tributes to ‘dedicated’ St Edmundsbury councillor and ‘devoted’ family man

The late Robert Clifton-Brown as Mayor of St Edmundsbury in 2002 with his wife, Elizabeth, and The Queen who visited for her Golden Jubilee celebrations in July of that year
The late Robert Clifton-Brown as Mayor of St Edmundsbury in 2002 with his wife, Elizabeth, and The Queen who visited for her Golden Jubilee celebrations in July of that year

Tributes have been paid to a long-serving and ‘dedicated’ councillor who passed away last weekend.

Robert Clifton-Brown, a former St Edmundsbury borough councillor, died on Saturday at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, aged 87.

The father-of-four, who leaves 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, represented the council’s Withersfield ward from 1989–2015 and, before its abolition in 1973, had served for 19 years on Clare Rural District Council.

A highlight for him came in July 2002 when The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited Bury St Edmunds for their Golden Jubilee celebrations and Mr Clifton-Brown, as Mayor of St Edmundsbury, and his late wife, Elizabeth, as the Mayor’s Consort, welcomed them on behalf of the town.

His family said that politics ‘ran though his veins’ with his father, Colonel Clifton-Brown, a former MP for Bury and his eldest son, Geoffrey, having served as MP for the Cotswolds for the past 24 years.

He formed a farming partnership with his wife in the early 1950s and continued to take an active interest even after handing over day-to-day duties to his younger son, Colin, in recent years.

He also worked his way through the hierarchy of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, serving on its court for many years.

As a ‘very keen’ horseman, his family said he rode fearlessly in point-to-points until well into his 40s, with Louise Allen, in Newmarket, having trained his race horses recently.

He ‘loved’ driving and showing his cart horses in competitions and had a ‘great passion’ for shooting, with the antics of the unruly dogs that accompanied him said to have provided many colourful tales.

His family said: “He leaves a large and devoted family and he was always keen to find out exactly what they were all doing. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than watching his great-grandchildren riding his Shetland pony, which was one of a pair that he used to drive in a cart.”

They added: “Robert was known throughout Suffolk for his exploits, giving rise to scores of amusing stories about him.

“He always had a gritty comment about everything and everybody. He was of the post-war fiercely independent generation and there will never be another character quite like him.”

Paying tribute to his former colleague, Cllr John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury, said: “He was a wonderful man and a unique Mayor of St Edmundsbury, amongst so many other achievements.

“I first met him when I was 12 years old, as a friend of my father. He was always excellent company and great fun, interested and interesting about everything.

“He was also a dedicated, respected and popular colleague at St Edmundsbury Borough Council. Robert was dedicated to his family and to serving the people of West Suffolk.

“He was a legend, and will be much missed and very fondly remembered by us all.”

Mr Clifton-Brown’s family will be holding a private funeral next week, but all are welcome to attend a thanksgiving service at All Saints’ Church, Great Thurlow, on November 7. For more details, contact Linton-based funeral directors HJ Paintin on 01223 891226.