Bury St Edmunds is today mourning the loss of a well-respected, ‘flamboyant’ character who devoted much of his life to the town.
Mike John Ames, coined ‘Mr Bury St Edmunds’ and ‘Mr Bury In Bloom’, died peacefully at West Suffolk Hospital in the early hours of this morning.
He served Bury as both a town and borough councillor and mayor, as chairman of Bury in Bloom and as a teacher, retiring from St Louis Middle School in 1999.
Other positions he had held include chairman of the Irving Stage Company, chair of governors at Guildhall Feoffment Primary School and committee member for Just Traid and Gatehouse.
The 77-year-old, who was awarded an BEM (British Empire Medal) in 2012 in recognition of his relentless services to the community, was also a loving husband, father and grandfather.
Anthea, the eldest of his three children, said: “We have so many happy memories. He was just a wonderful person. He touched so many lives and he’ll be missed by everybody.”
She added: “He was gifted to us for two years after he had a lifesaving operation in Papworth. They’ve been very precious and thank God we had them. We were hoping to get a lot longer but dad was a practising Roman Catholic - his faith meant a lot to him and he believed in life after death. He always said to us when your number’s up, your number’s up, and you’re taken from this life to go into the next.”
Cllr John Griffiths, MBE, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “Mike was a very special man who will be much missed and very fondly remembered by so many. Nobody will forget his long service to St Edmundsbury (including as our mayor and deputy mayor), everything he did for Bury in Bloom in particular, and his wonderful bow ties - amongst so many other good things. He leaves Bury, which he cared about passionately, a much more colourful place than before he found it, and a wonderful legacy for his many friends and family, who have our deepest sympathies.”
David Ruffley, MP for Bury, said: “Mike Ames was a giant in the civic life of our town and our famous borough. He was above party politics and I had the pleasure of working with him over many years, most recently only a few weeks ago on the preservation of historic pub signs in the town with Greene King. When we both went to Greene King to discuss this just after Christmas he was on top form, fully engaged, sharp as a razor and demonstrating his love for the town environment. He was a distinguished servant and resident of the town and I shall certainly miss him.”
Anthea said her father was ‘very protective’ of Bury because of its beauty, history and people, and that he wanted the town ‘to retain its individuality and uniqueness’.
She added: “He was big, bold and colourful to the end. He would want everybody in Bury to remember him for all he did and to celebrate his life, not dwell on his death.”
A date for the funeral has yet to be finalised but Mike’s request for a civic ceremony and requiem mass at St Edmund’s Roman Catholic Church will be honoured.
If you would like to leave a tribute to Mike, ‘Mr Bury st Edmunds’, please do so here.