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‘Extraordinary’ mother and grandmother’s devotion to Thetford community remembered

By Paul Brackley

Zarles Lawlor, a community champion from Thetford, has died. ANL-150629-111105001
Zarles Lawlor, a community champion from Thetford, has died. ANL-150629-111105001

A Thetford community hero who dedicated four decades to serving the town has been remembered by her husband as an ‘extraordinary woman’.

Zarles Lawlor (formerly Williams) was well known in the town for her community work and devotion to the area, where she lived for 40 years.

Following a short battle with pancreatic cancer, Zarles passed away at her home in Thetford on June 18, aged 70.

Graham Lawlor, her partner of nine years, said Zarles was ‘unforgettable’.

“She was a wonderful, extraordinary woman with so much energy,” he said.

“We found each other in later life and had a very happy relationship. We hoped we would get another ten years.

“Pancreatic cancer is a very cruel thing. She bore the burden with great bravery.”

From the late 1970s until the early 2000s Zarles managed the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, as well as being involved in the Peddars Way Housing Association.

Before meeting Graham, whom she wed last October, the mother-of-three was married to a local GP and was a well known voice to the patients of Grove Surgery.

During her time at the CAB, working as manager and trainer, Graham estimated she had helped ‘thousands of people’.

“She had ferociously high standards, which she expected all her staff to share, and created great loyalty, devotion and affection wherever she went,” he said.

“She had a great sense of social justice and would apply herself full tilt with a dogged steeliness that earned her a rightful reputation as someone you couldn’t ignore!”

Zarles was also a devoted family woman, with children Guy, Louise and Edward, and four grandchildren, Lauren, Henry, Nellie and Alfie.

Her final indulgence of another passion, travelling, was a six-week trip with Graham to Singapore, Australia and New Zealand just months before her diagnosis.

A humanist celebration of Zarles’ life is being held for all friends and former colleagues at Barnham Village Hall on July 15 from 12pm. Her family have asked that no mourning attire be worn and that any donations be made to St Nicholas Hospice Care, in Bury.


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