Building chief Mark bows out on a high

THEY think it's all over for the man who played a central role in establishing the magnificent tower at St Edmundsbury Cathedral - well it is now.The England football team had just lifted the World Cup when Michael Blaza started his distinguished 37-year career as building control officer.

THEY think it's all over for the man who played a central role in establishing the magnificent tower at St Edmundsbury Cathedral - well it is now.

The England football team had just lifted the World Cup when Michael Blaza started his distinguished 37-year career as building control officer.

Ironically, the nation's Rugby team have just repeated the same amazing feat at the time he has decided to hang up his hard hat for good.

But perhaps an evening greater achievement than those memorable sporting moments is the role Mr Blaza has played in establishing the 150ft crossing tower at the cathedral, which is due for completion next year.


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In 1966 Mr Blaza started working for St Edmundsbury Borough Council (then Bury St Edmunds Borough Council) and his first task was to over see a huge extension project at the back of the cathedral.

Over the years he has worked his way up to become the authority's principal building control surveyor and his last major project was to co-ordinate the tower scheme. Although he has now retired at a time when the tower is only half way complete he says he is immensely proud of the role he has played in the multi-million pound scheme.

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Mr Blaza said: "I have been involved in the tower project since the mid 1990s and it is by far the biggest task I have ever been involved in.

"It has been a real challenge trying to build a tower onto a 12th century building under 21st Century building regulations.

"The project has really tested all my skills and expertise and I have had to work very closely with the architects and builders.

"The tower is being designed to last a thousand years so we have had to use historic techniques that we know can last the test of time. For example we have used lime mortar instead of cement because we know from other historic buildings that it can last that long.

"Although I am very proud to have played a key role in the project, I shouldn't take all the credit it has been very much a team effort."

During his 37 years with the authority Mr Blaza has overseen many developments in the town, including the building of the sugar silos which dominate the skyline and emergence of the Cornhill Walk shopping area.

He has now decided it is time for a rest and in his retirement he plans to spend more time with his wife Kathleen at his Thornham St Martin home and increase his voluntary involvement with the RSPCA.

Last week colleagues at St Edmundsbury presented him with a cut glass whiskey decanter as a farewell present.

He added: "I have really enjoyed my time with the council, which I am proud to have been part of. Over the years the authority has ensured the town has been developed in the best possible way and I will miss being involved from now on."

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