Village stalwart's four decades of making community tick
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A community veteran of 40 years has doubts he'll be slowing down anytime soon despite leaving his village's parish council.
John McKee, from Bruisyard near Framlingham, has been serving the village in a number of roles since moving there in the 1970s.
Mr McKee, now 81, has just retired from one of his numerous roles in the community after having spent nearly four decades on Bruisyard Parish Council.
However, that's not the only role Mr McKee has played in the village over the years.
As well as sitting on the parish council, he's also served on Alde Community Council which helps fund projects across Bruisyard as well as in the neighbouring villages of Rendham and Sweffling.
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For the last few years he's also been a big part of running Bruisyard Village Hall, from clearing rubbish and helping prepare the site to pulling pints.
It wasn’t quite the same when he arrived in an area then known as Rendham West back in 1972.
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“There wasn’t a lot going on here,” he said.
“There was nothing.”
Anyone wanting to have a social event would have to go to neighbouring villages.
Mr McKee was part of a group that helped to fundraise enough money so that Bruisyard could have its own village hall.
Following the raising of thousands of pounds for the site, work began on constructing the hall in 2009 and the building was opened to the public in 2010.
It’s now used by a number of different groups in the village and is managed by the village hall committee which Mr McKee has also sat on.
As well as helping to manage the building, Mr McKee has also sat on the Bruisyard Social Amenities Committee which aims to get people involved in more events in the village.
Mr McKee has hosted a number of different themed lunches and evenings which have helped to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
It's estimated that he has raised around £10,000 for the East of England Air Ambulance, St Peter's Church in Bruisyard and the charity Bike Action.
He's believed to have raised almost the same again for other charities as well.
Some of his most popular events have included ‘soup and pud’ lunches and ‘sausage and mash’ evenings.
“I would make a soup,” said Mr McKee.
“And my wife would make a sweet.
“We gave people brilliant soups. You could see the vegetables and meat.
“Sometimes we would have up to 50 people come.”
The event was so popular they would regularly have people come from miles around to take part including as far as Framlingham and Kessingland.
Another favourite in the village hall was country music evenings which again proved popular.
“We used to have people come up from Southend in Essex,” said Mr McKee.
“They were always here.
“We had some very good artists, some who had been on television. I just enjoyed doing it.”
Mr McKee has also raised money through his membership of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, a charitable fraternal organisation that he has been a member of since the 1960s.
Who it is that has helped inspire Mr McKee and help him keep going through all of his endeavours?
“It’s my wife,” said Mr McKee.
“She’s the one that helps me.”
Mr McKee said that despite their numerous commitments in the village, the couple always made sure not to overladen themselves with responsibilities.
“If it’s a burden, we don’t do it,” said Mr McKee.
To mark his time serving the village Mr McKee and his wife Teresa were presented with a cheque for £300 by the Bruisyard Social Amenities Committee, on which Mr McKee has also served.
Paul Church, chairman of Bruisyard Parish Council said that Mr McKee had given so much to the village over the years.
"Without his and Theresa's hard work would not have raised half the money for the village hall," said Mr Church.
"They have been really good stalwarts which is why I think they should be recognised."
Despite having now stepped back a bit from his duties to the village, Mr McKee can’t see himself slowing down completely any time soon.
“No not really,” said Mr McKee.
“When it starts again I will make it to the bar.”