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Town Hall funeral for veteran Colchester councillor and former mayor

PUBLISHED: 18:48 29 January 2016 | UPDATED: 10:41 01 February 2016

The coffin of Martin Hunt, former Colchester mayor, honorary alderman, council leader and sports journalist is carried into the Town Hall.

The coffin of Martin Hunt, former Colchester mayor, honorary alderman, council leader and sports journalist is carried into the Town Hall.

Tributes have been paid to a former Colchester mayor and council veteran from across all sides of the chamber.

Martin Hunt during an election count.Martin Hunt during an election count.

A civic funeral was held today for Martin Hunt, who served as a Liberal Democrat on Colchester Borough Council for more than 25 years died on December 24 after losing his battle with cancer.

Mr Hunt, a former sports journalist, was first elected to the council in the Prettygate seat in 1983 where he was ward councillor for 17 years, becoming mayor in 1999.

He also served as deputy leader for six years before becoming leader in May 2014, and stepped down in last May’s elections. Mr Hunt, 67, was made an alderman for his long service on the council.

His funeral service was held in the Moot Hall within Colchester’s Town Hall, a fitting place for the ceremony, with hundreds of people turning out to pay their respects.

A procession for the funeral of former Colchester mayor, honorary alderman, council leader and sports journalist Martin Hunt enters the Moot Hall in Colchester Town Hall.A procession for the funeral of former Colchester mayor, honorary alderman, council leader and sports journalist Martin Hunt enters the Moot Hall in Colchester Town Hall.

One of his daughters Laura Hunt, speaking on behalf of the family, said: “He will be remembered as the best husband, father and grandpa, and the kindest person we have ever known.

“The town hall holds so many special family memories for us and to see it filled with such love and respect for Dad was incredibly touching. He’d have felt totally undeserving but absolutely chuffed.

“The team worked so hard to create such a wonderful tribute.

“It is just impossible to pick one memory. I enjoyed every day I spent with him completely honestly.

A procession for the funeral of former Colchester mayor, honorary alderman, council leader and sports journalist Martin Hunt enters the Moot Hall in Colchester Town Hall.A procession for the funeral of former Colchester mayor, honorary alderman, council leader and sports journalist Martin Hunt enters the Moot Hall in Colchester Town Hall.

“He will remain my favourite person forever and I’ll miss him all my life. But I’ll never stop feeling so lucky to have had a Father like him.”

Paul Smith, Liberal Democrat borough council leader, said: “It was particularly poignant for me because I was first elected to the council in the year Martin became mayor, and the first thing I did was vote for him for the position.

“I can still remember as a young councillor how helpful he was in guiding me and suggesting I might do things in a slightly different way to get a better result.

“He was a very strong performer in the council chamber and also got a lot done in the borough.”

Will Quince, Colchester MP and former Conservative group leader on the borough council, said: “The biggest thing I am going to miss about Martin is the chats we had.

“He was a wise man and he would say what he thought, and it is really rare for a politician to be admired and respected by everyone across the political spectrum.

“When he spoke, regardless of whether you agreed with him or not, you listened. That is the sign of not just a local politician, but a community politician, which is probably the best way of describing him.

“The town is a far better place with him having played an active role on the council.”

Tim Young, Labour group leader on the borough council, added: “It is sad and devastating for the family, and we will all miss him greatly.

“Martin was a great character, easy to work with, and an honourable, principled and caring man – the sort of local politician the rest of us should aspire to be like.”

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