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Tributes paid to 'giant' of Bury St Edmunds politics Ray Nowak who fought for social justice and change

Tributes have been paid to a ‘giant’ of Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk politics, who ‘fought for social justice’ and helped bring major change to the town.

Former councillor Ray Nowak, who died aged 70 at his home in Portland on Monday, was Bury’s Labour Party branch secretary for more than two decades and was leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council presiding over a rainbow coalition in the early 2000s.

He signed off the development of the Cattle Market and was on the leadership team when Labour controlled the borough council from 1995 to 1999. Ray was also involved in the Cineworld development.

Ray Nowak
Ray Nowak

His son Adam, 39, of Nottingham, said: “He was passionate about improving things for everybody and was very keen on helping Bury develop and prosper. He was a very independent guy who had huge amounts of creative spirit but also a lot of drive and desire to make the local world he lived in better.”

Ray was a Suffolk county councillor from 1993 to 2005 and agent for Mark Ereira-Guyer in the 1997 and 2001 General Elections.

Mark, who was Ray’s deputy on the borough council, said: “He was a tenacious campaigner and fighter for social justice and left-leaning politics. He worked so hard, he was a Trojan in terms of working to ensure people got the Labour message in a typically blue area.

“We were able to do things we felt were really good for the town and its development and progress.”

Cllr Diane Hind, Labour Group leader for West Suffolk, said Ray was a ‘giant of politics’ in Bury and Suffolk and a ‘strong but pragmatic leader’.

Her son Kevin took over as the local Labour chair in 2005 and remembers Ray as one of the people who showed him ‘a more constructive side to politics’.

He worked so hard, he was a Trojan in terms of working to ensure people got the Labour message in a typically blue area - Mark Ereira-Guyer

John Griffiths, who succeeded Ray as borough council leader in 2003, said he was a ‘very experienced and formidable’ councillor.

Ray, who leaves three other children and four grandchildren, left Bury to move to Norwich and then Portland to pursue an interest in artistic stone carving.

He also served on Portland Town Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

His funeral is on June 3 at Weymouth Crematorium.

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