Tributes to former MP

He was “the peasant knight” who was fondly remembered as the man “who leaves a huge legacy of standards, courage, determination and achievements.”About 350 people - including family, friends, and ex-political colleagues - packed into St Nicholas Church in Dereham on Monday to celebrate the life of former North Norfolk MP Sir Ralph Howell, of Wendling, who died on Valentine's Day aged 84.

He was “the peasant knight” who was fondly remembered as the man “who leaves a huge legacy of standards, courage, determination and achievements.”

About 350 people - including family, friends, and ex-political colleagues - packed into St Nicholas Church in Dereham on Monday to celebrate the life of former North Norfolk MP Sir Ralph Howell, of Wendling, who died on Valentine's Day aged 84.

His son Paul led tributes to Sir Ralph and recalled his wartime service, his devotion to farming and the countryside and his political career, including 27 years as MP and tireless campaiger on workfare policies.

“He was courageous, determined, so full of energy to the end and our rock. Dad never gave up and whatever project he had he stuck to it,” said Mr Howell, who described his father as “the peasant knight.”


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“He leaves us with a huge sense of pride.”

Mr Howell said his father and his late mother Lady Margaret Howell had been “a wonderful team”

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“February 14 - what a great day for a reunion.”

He recalled Lady Howell had planned the arrangements for the service several years ago under the name “Operation Hope Not.”

Sir Ralph's other son Robert and daughter Deborah both read during the service.

The address was given by the Rev John Belham, who said Sir Ralph had “thought the unthinkable” in his political career and “his thinking was ahead of its time.”

Among those at the service was North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham.

There was a private family cremation service at King's Lynn on Tuesday and Sir Ralph's ashes were interred in Wendling churchyard.

A collection was held at Monday's service for Dereham and Wendling parish churches.

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