Tributes have been paid to former Bury St Edmunds MP Sir Eldon Griffiths - ‘an exceptional man, massive political personality and citizen of the world’ - who died aged 89 this week.
Sir Eldon was Conservative MP for Bury from 1964 to 1992 and served as a junior Government minister for environment and Sport under Ted Heath.
On Tuesday his son Cllr John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Council, said: “A very bright light flickered and went out earlier this morning. Not just for me and the rest of my family but for so many others whose lives my father touched.
“He will, I trust, be remembered not just for his many acheivements but, more importantly, perhaps, for making life better for a multitude of people of all ages, walks of life and nationality.
“My father was an exceptional man and enjoyed an extraordinarily full, and active life to the very end. And while he really was a ‘citizen of the world’ which he travelled so extensively, there is nowhere that he cared about more than this country, West Suffolk and Bury St Edmunds, in particular.”
Enjoying a varied career, Sir Eldon was foreign news editor for Newsweek, was the founder and former president of Special Olympics UK and served in international relations in the Council of Europe and Nato. During his time in West Suffolk, Sir Eldon worked on the A11 development, the building of West Suffolk Hospital, the sugar beet silos and helped to stop the demolition of the West Front ruins, in Bury.
Sir Eldon was made a Freeman of the Borough of St Edmundsbury in 2007 in recognition of his many achievements including ‘promoting the development of Bury St Edmunds while safeguarding its heritage’. Last July, he married long standing friend Susan Donnell in Bury .
Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley hailed Sir Eldon as a ‘massive political personality locally and nationally’ and remembered a piece of political advice from his predecessor. Mr Ruffley said: “His line was trust the people - at the end of the day they always know more than you do.”
He said Sir Eldon will be commemorated in the House of Commons.
West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock said: “He led a fascinating life and I’m sure will be remembered for his wonderful character and huge acheivements in British politics.”
His son John added: “He was so pleased to make it back here - to the part of the world and people he loved the most - to rest for, possibly, the first but also the last time.”