Flags were flying at half-mast outside Fenland District Council’s offices in March and at Wisbech Yacht Harbour, following the death of Councillor Mac Cotterell MBE at the age of 81.
Cllr Cotterell joined Fenland Council as the Member for Elm Ward in 1979. He remained on it until his death and at various times he held all the major posts.
He was Chairman of the Council from 1987 to 1990, when he took over as Leader, a post he held twice - first from 1990 to 1995 and then again from 1998 to 2001.
One of his greatest achievements as a councillor was to set up the Golden Age project, a nationally recognised scheme that has provided advice and practical help to many thousands of older people throughout the district.
He also played a leading part in the revitalisation of the Port of Wisbech.
He was awarded the MBE by the Queen in 2006 in recognition of his outstanding service to the community – something he described then as “the proudest moment of my life”.
It was a fitting reward. In addition to his work for the council, Cllr Cotterell’s contribution to other aspects of Fenland life has been immeasurable, both as a journalist and former news editor of the Wisbech Advertiser and in his service on numerous public bodies.
The tributes were led by Councillor Alan Melton, Leader of Fenland District Council. He said: “On a personal level I am devastated. Mac has been a great friend and mentor in all my time on the council and I shall miss him terribly.
“Fenland – and I don’t just mean the council, I mean everyone in the district – has lost one of its superchampions. Everything he did was for the benefit of the people of Fenland. He loved this place and its people and he very rarely had a bad word to say about anyone.”
Cllr Steve Garratt, FDC’s Cabinet member responsible for Golden Age, said: “Everyone involved with Golden Age will be really saddened by this news. Not only did Mac set Golden Age up, he has been its driving force and inspiration and he leaves a tremendous legacy.
“Personally, I will miss him very much. He was a real gentleman and was my role model when I was first elected on to the council. He had a lot of wisdom, a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience and he treated everyone with great respect. He was a tremendous ambassador for Fenland.”