Obituary: Tributes paid to gentleman Mac Cotterell

Mac Cotterell
Mac Cotterell

Tribute has been paid today for well respected Fenland Councillor Mac Cotterell, MBE who died on Wednesday morning (24 October) after a long illness.

Mac’s wife Marjorie, who kept a bedside vigil last night, said he died peacefully at around 10am in hospital in King’s Lynn where he had been for the past two weeks.

Mac, who was the only son of Frederick and Dorothy Cotterell was born and brought up in Wisbech, and began his working career as an indentured accountant with Whiting and Partners.

However, after completing his National Service with the RAF, he decided to give up accountancy to become a junior reporter with the Wisbech Advertiser (the fore-runner of this paper).

“He had written a number of articles during his time with the RAF and really enjoyed it,” explained Marjorie, who met Mac at a dance in 1957. They were married less than a year later - they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary last month.

He went on to set up his own photography business - Nene Studios - and worked as a freelance journalist for national newspapers as well as the BBC.

Mac was elected to the Rural District Council in May 1964, and would have celebrated 50 years in local government next May.

He was a parish councillor at Elm for many years and was chairman for over 20 years.

Mac became a Fenland District Councillor in 1979 and has held numerous positions within the council over the years including being leader for over 10 years and chairman for three years.

He served on the cabinet and was Portfolio Holder for Senior Citizens and through that position launched the council’s Golden Age Fairs.

“He absolutely loved the golden age fairs, he called the team his family, and the money found in benefits as a result was unbelievable,” said Marjorie.

Mac was involved in a huge array of local organisations including being governor of Fridaybridge and Queens Schools, chairman of Fenland Mencap, and chairman of Fenland Citizens Advice Bureau.

Marjorie, who is also an Elm parish councillor, would often attend various meetings with her husband.

In fact Mac’s dedication to the community was his greatest joy and his hard work was recognised in 2006 when he was awarded the MBE for services to the community.

“He never really sought recognition or pushed himself forward, but I think receiving the MBE was one of the few times when he was secretly pleased with himself,” said Marjorie.

Paying tribute to her husband Marjorie said: “I know everyone says it about their husbands, but he was an absolute joy to be married to. He was always so patient and helpful. There was one word he always lived by and that was ‘integrity’, he never broke a confidence, he never ever turned down anybody who wanted help,” said Marjorie, who said Mac’s only real hobby had been motorcycle scrambling and go-karting in his younger days. He was chairman of Wisbech and District Go-karting Association.

Fenland’s Chief Executive Paul Medd said: “Mac was both a formidable and selfless politician, who gave virtually all his life to public service in Fenland. He will be particularly remembered for his commitment to improving the quality of life for people living in rural areas, and for his dedication to supporting older people in Fenland through the Golden Age project, which he set up.

“He was passionate about Fenland and the work of this council. He would often drop in to my office and offer words of wisdom, support and advice, and I will miss those impromptu conversations and the honest and generous spirit he brought to them.

“Fenland has lost a real gentleman, and he will be sadly missed by the many local people he served, along with his member and officer colleagues.”

And Cllr Steve Garratt, Fenland’s portfolio holder 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.”