'He would light up a room' - Tributes to community stalwart, Ian Harrison

Ian Harrison died at the Priscilla Bacon Lodge, aged 71

Ian Harrison died at the Priscilla Bacon Lodge, aged 71 - Credit: SUPPLIED

A community stalwart from Wymondham who gave years of selfless service has died aged 71. 

The family of Ian Harrison has spoken in glowing terms of his humanity and special qualities that made everyone he came into contact with feel special. 

Mr Harrison was a Norfolk man through and through, being born in the county in 1950. He grew up in West Earlham and was educated at the Hewett School in Norwich.

He started his working life in Great Yarmouth making and delivering dental plates before working at the Archie King scrapyard ahead of joining the Eastern Electricity Board as a storeman.

He later trained to become a lineman, an occupation he followed until his retirement. 

Ian Harrison and his wife

Ian Harrison and his wife - Credit: SUPPLIED

He met his future wife June through a mutual friend at a dance at the Samson and Hercules nightclub in Tombland, Norwich.

Mrs Harrison was from Heartsease and the couple were married in Heartsease Methodist Church on October 5, 1974. Their daughter, Louise, was born in 1978 and son, Bobby, in 1981. 

Proud dad, Ian Harrison

Proud dad, Ian Harrison - Credit: SUPPLIED

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The family lived in Norwich before moving to Hethersett in 1986 and subsequently to Wymondham. 

Mr Harrison had a passion for football, playing for a number of the county’s amateur clubs including Earlham Spinney. After moving to Hethersett, he began coaching youth teams with his son, an integral member of his side. 

Ian Harrison having a kick about

Ian Harrison having a kick about - Credit: SUPPLIED

In 2000, Mr Harrison was awarded the prestigious Lee Thompson Memorial Trophy by Hethersett Athletic Football Club for outstanding contribution to football.

The trophy is in memory of Mr Thompson, who was killed in a road accident aged 17 and who had previously been coached by Mr Harrison.

Despite being seriously ill, a few weeks before his death he attended a memorial match to Mr Thompson and managed one of the teams. 

Throughout his life, he fostered a love of pop, rock and classical music, with special emphasis on the 1960s including the Beatles and the Small Faces and also Northern Soul.

This love saw him join both the Norwich Music Group and the South Norfolk Operatic Society which later became the Wymondham-based Encore Singing Group. He shared his love of music with his wife, who is an accomplished soprano. 

Ian Harrison enjoying family time

Ian Harrison enjoying family time - Credit: SUPPLIED

Mr Harrison’s connection began with backstage and front of house work but then progressed to onstage singing roles where he was able to give full expression to the extrovert showman side of his personality. 

A number of years ago, he visited the Pabulum Dementia Support Group at Wymondham and was so moved by their work that he became a volunteer helping out at their regular cafes. Outside of fulfilling volunteer roles, Ian was also a keen golfer and photographer, and had an allotment in Wymondham. 

He was also known as a “snappy dresser” and in his teenage years was a mod, owning a number of scooters, a love of which he passed onto his son, who is now the owner of Hustle Boxing Fitness Gym in Norwich. 

Ian Harrison enjoying family time

Ian Harrison enjoying family time - Credit: SUPPLIED

Mrs Harrison, his wife of 47 years, said: “Ian always came alive when he was around people. He had the ability to light up a room. He gelled with people and he made them come alive. He will really be missed by so many people as he made everyone feel special.  

“He was always so supportive of myself and his family. I still feel his presence. We had so much more that we wanted to do with our lives together, but he will always be with me.” 

His son, Bobby, added: “Dad helped so many people and I hope that some of his humanity has rubbed off on me and what I do.” 

Ian Harrison enjoying family time

All together as a family - Credit: SUPPLIED

A service and celebration of his life will take place at Earlham Crematorium on Tuesday, October 19, and will feature some of his favourite music.  

Mr Harrison leaves behind his wife, two children, grandsons Reggie and Albert and a brother, David. Another brother, Phillip, died a number of years ago.