Fitting final journey for ‘Suffolk character’ Mick Balaam
A well known ‘Suffolk character’ who died aged 78 was granted his last wish when he made his final journey on the back of a tractor and trailer.
Mick Balaam’s coffin was carried from his Troston home to his funeral at West Suffolk Crematorium on the back of a large tractor and trailer supplied and driven by friend Richard Cross.
Seven of his grandchildren rode on the trailer with him from the crematorium gates while his six children walked behind.
During the service, a moving letter was read from the Suffolk Lord Lieutenant Countess of Euston and his flat cap was left for donations with nearly £500 collected for the East of England Ambulance Service.
His daughter Di Bellingham said: “It was a fitting final journey for a big man with a big heart and great character - many felt this was indicated by the number of people who attended the service with the room full to capacity.”
Mr Balaam grew up in Fakenham Magna and went to school in Honington. Aged 14, he started work on Johnny Wortley’s farm, in Fakenham, where he remained until his mid-30s.
He met his wife Beatty on the farm and they married in 1957. They were planning their 60th wedding anniversary at the time of his death.
In the early 90s, he launched a taxi company M&B cars. Having secured a contract with Vinten’s, he was often at the airport.
Mrs Bellingham said: “He considered each customer a friends and knew their family as well as his own. He and Beatty did school contracts as well as general private hire from RAF Honington.
“Befriending the parents of the ‘boys’ as they attended their sons’ passing out parade to such an extent that he holidayed with a couple from Skye more than once.
“Wherever he went he met someone he knew, or knew someone he knew.
“He also spent a year as the High Sheriff’s (Lady Euston) chauffeur - a role of which he was extremely proud.”
After his retirement, he bought a piece of land in Fakenham from friend Wal Saunders (Roald Dahl’s builder/carpenter and inspiration for the BFG).
An animal lover, he kept pigs and other animals on the land.
He leaves behind his youngest sister, his wife, six children, 11 grandchildren and an ‘increasing number’ of great grandchildren.