Suffolk's fond farewell to Belstead

SUFFOLK paid a fond farewell to Lord Belstead on Saturday at a church service packed with representatives of the Royal Family, politicians, the legal profession and members of associations connected with the hereditary peer, who died last month.

By Graham Dines

SUFFOLK paid a fond farewell to Lord Belstead on Saturday at a church service packed with representatives of the Royal Family, politicians, the legal profession and members of associations connected with the hereditary peer, who died last month.

Paying tribute to “a quiet, unassuming humble man,” the Rt Rev John Dennis, a former Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said Lord Belstead - a Cabinet minister in Margaret Thatcher's Government and Lord Lieutenant of his beloved county for nine years - was more interested in listening rather than speaking.

“We remember a wonderful character and the humility and decency of John Belstead. He was a man of sharp intellect, a listening ear and a looking eye. He was a gentle gentleman.”

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The service of thanksgiving for Lord Belstead was held at the Church of St Mary-le-Tower in Ipswich and attended by members of the county voluntary and sporting organisations with which he was associated.

John Julian Ganzoni, second Baron Belstead of Ipswich, was born on September 30, 1932, the son of John Ganzoni - Tory MP for Ipswich from 1914 until he was created a hereditary peer in 1937 - and Gwen Turner.

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He was one of the most influential figures in Conservative politics in Suffolk and East Anglia and after his father's death in 1958, took his seat in the House of Lords and later served in the Heath, Thatcher and Major governments in the departments of Education, Northern Ireland, Home Office. Foreign and Commonwealth, Agriculture, and Environment.

He was appointed a member of the Privy Council in 1982 and was Leader of the House of Lords from 1988 until 1990.

In 1994, the prominent role he had played in Suffolk life was recognised with his appointment as Lord Lieutenant, the Queen's representative in the county. He resigned in 2003 through ill health.

Under the Blair government's reform of the House of Lords, Lord Belstead was able to retain his seat in the upper house when he was one of 15 hereditaries to be created a life peer. He took the title Baron Ganzoni of Ipswich.

He was unmarried and the title Belstead is now extinct. Survived by his sister Jill, his funeral took place at Great Bealings on the outskirts of Ipswich, where his ashes are buried.

The service of thanksgiving was conducted by the Rural Dean of Ipswich and Vicar of St Mary-le-Tower, Canon Peter Townley, who gave the address. The lesson from the Epistle to the Colossians was read by Nicholas Ridley, a cousin of Lord Belstead, and hymns sung were Praise my soul the King of heaven, He who would valiant be, and O come, all ye faithful.

Prayers were led by the Dean of St Edmundsbury, the Very Rev James Atwell, and the blessing given by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev. Richard Lewis.

Robed and seated in the sanctuary were the Rt Rev Clive Young, Bishop of Dunwich; the Rt Rev John Waine, a former Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich; the Venerable Geoffrey Arrand, Archdeacon of Suffolk; and the Venerable John Cox, Archdeacon of Sudbury.

The service was attended by Lord Tollemache, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, who represented the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh; the Countess of Cranbrook, representing the Prince of Wales; Nicolas > Adamson, representing the Duke and Duchess of Kent; and Lady Tollemache, who represented the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Lord Rooker, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords and Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, was the senior Government representative. Lord Elton represented Baroness Amos, Leader of the Lords; Lord Jopling represented David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative Party; Earl Ferres represented Lord Strathclyde, Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords; Arnold Barrow, represented the Parole Board for England and Wales; Chris Hilliard, Director for Children and Learners at the Government Office for the East of England, represented the Department for Education and Skills; Ms Jan Rabagliati, represented the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Among others present were:

Major Philip Hope-Cobbold, High Sheriff of Suffolk; Judge John Devaux, residing judge at Ipswich Crown Court; Alastair McWhirter, Chief Constable of Suffolk; Peter Sanderson, Chairman of the West Suffolk Bench, representing the Suffolk Magistracy.

Sir Michael Lord, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and MP for Suffolk Central and Ipswich North; John Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal; Richard Spring, MP for Suffolk West; former Cabinet ministers who were MPs for East Anglia constituencies, Lord McGregor of Pulham Market and Lord Prior; and Michael Irvine, Tory MP for Ipswich from 1987 to 1992.

Jeremy Clover, Chairman of Suffolk County Council; Jeremy Pembroke, Leader of Suffolk County Council; Liz Harsant, Leader of Ipswich Borough Council.

Following the service, the Suffolk Guild of Bell Ringers rang out a full peal of 5,073 changes in honour of the 73 years of Lord Belstead's life.

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