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Wisbech Beadle stepping down after 11 years

Former Wisbech Town Beadle Alister Hopkins with his wife Sue Hopkins ANL-150607-094309009
Former Wisbech Town Beadle Alister Hopkins with his wife Sue Hopkins ANL-150607-094309009

A man who has been part of the ‘civic face’of Wisbech for more than 11 years has just announced he is stepping aside.

Alister Hopkins has been Town Beadle and, more recently Mace Bearer, since April 2003.

But, now turned 65 and dogged by back problems, the former police senior scenes of crime officer says he will call it a day in September.

Wisbech Town Council aim to maintain a historic link going back to 1835 by finding a replacement for Mr Hopkins.

He said: “I will be sorry to go. It’s a great role. I have thorougly enjoyed it and have so many memories and made so many very, very good friends.

“But now my wife, Susan, has retired and I’m feeling my back injuries I feel that now I want to enjoy my retirement.”

Mr Hopkins took on the role of Town Beadle from Walter ‘Wally’ Hutchinson. Sadly, Mr Hutchinson died on June 18, aged 89, and the Town Council and councillors hoped to be represented at his funeral at St Peter’s Church yesterday.

The council held a minute’s silence in tribute to Mr Hutchinson at its meeting on June 22.

Mr Hopkins said: “Wally was a lovely man. He was briilliant, helping me so much when I took over. He’d do anything for you.”

Mr Hopkins has served 10 Mayors in his capacity as Beadle and Mace Bearer, accompanying them on many official engagements as their attendant and taking care of the chain of office and town mace.

He said: “The chain is one of the finest in the country. It is gold and records every Mayor of Wisbech since 1835.

“The mace is solid silver, weighing eight-and-a-half-pounds. It was given to the town by Alexander Peckover when he was made a lord.”

He has become so fascinated by the history of Wisbech that he gives talks to groups and says: “I love all the history of Wisbech – Octavia Hill, Thomas Clarkson, the Peckover family – it’s fantastic.”

Mr Hopkins has many memories – amongst them the two visits by the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, to Wisbech in 2005 and 2011.

He says: “She is a lovely lady and was in Wisbech to open the Orchards School in 2005.

“The Mayor, Carol Cox, and I attended in full regalia and afterwards I was told by someone whose son went to the school that, although he hadn’t seen the Princess, he did see the King and Queen!”

Mr Hopkins’ final duty as Mace Bearer will be at a charity concert at Wisbech Grammar School in September and Town Clerk Terry Jordan said: “The council is very appreciative of the service that Alister has given to the town over the years.

“He is highly regarded in the community and is part of the civic face of the town.

“Wisbech is keen to continue to raise its profile and show it is a great place to live and work and the civic side is very important in doing that.”

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