Countryside stalwart dies

Paul Long.

Paul Long.

A countryside stalwart described as “a countryman to his boots” has died.

Former Country Land and Business Association (CLA) East regional director Colonel Paul Long OBE DL joined the CLA in 1994 as regional secretary for Norfolk and Suffolk, after a distinguished career in the Army and time as Commandant of the 27,000-acre Stanford Training Area near Thetford. In 2000, he also became responsible for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Essex as they joined with Norfolk and Suffolk to form the new CLA Eastern Region.

His interests included shooting, fishing, and walking with his cocker spaniels at his heels. CLA staff described him as “convivial”, “avuncular”, “a leader” and “a countryman to his boots”.

His career in the Army began when he joined the 1st East Anglian Regiment in Felixstowe in the 1960s. He subsequently served with the 1st Royal Anglian Regiment in Celle, Catterick, Cyprus, Tidworth and Northern Ireland. He also saw active service in operational theatres such as Aden, where he has wounded in action and mentioned in dispatches.

He commanded the 5th Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment before becoming Commandant at Stanford.

This role brought him closer to his family’s 200-acre mixed farm at Cley-next-the-Sea in North Norfolk, where he was brought up.

In 1985, he was awarded an OBE and in 2008 was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk.

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He was Honorary Colonel of A (Norfolk) Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment, and was, in later years, Honorary Colonel of the Suffolk Army Cadet Force having commanded the Norfolk Army Cadet Force in the 1990s.

Nicola Currie, who took over as regional director following his retirement from the CLA in 2005, described him as a “true gentleman” with time for everyone.

“Paul’s empathy with people ensured that he was skilled at looking after the CLA membership ensuring all felt properly cared for, however small their issues or concerns. He led a very successful campaign for the promotion of renewable energy well ahead of its time,” she said.

“His generous nature coupled with military organisational skills and total commitment, as well as his deep understanding of the countryside and rural economy, ensured that his was a very successful and happy office.”

He lived at Assington Green during his tenure at the CLA before moving to Clare following his retirement. He died suddenly on August 27.

He was a beloved husband to Sue, loving father to Torquil, Suzannah and Rory and a much-loved stepfather and grandpa.

There will be a private family funeral, which will be followed by a service to celebrate his life on Friday, September 23, at St Mary’s Church, Bury St Edmunds at 2pm.