GALLERY: Friends pay tribute to Fenland public service giant the late Mac Cotterell MBE at the Boathouse
PUBLISHED: 14:28 07 March 2014 | UPDATED: 14:28 07 March 2014
More than 85 friends and former colleagues gathered to pay tribute to one of Fenland’s great public servants yesterday.
They met at the Boathouse in Wisbech to celebrate the life of the late Mac Cotterell MBE, who devoted more than 50 years to public service before he died last October aged 81.
The event saw the official opening of the Mac Cotterell Gallery and a portrait of the two time former Fenland District Council leader, who served on the council for 34 years, was unveiled by his widow, Margaret (Madge) Cotterell,
Mac, who was awarded an MBE in 2006, founded the council’s nationally recognised Golden Age scheme for older people and played a leading part in the revitalisation of the Port of Wisbech.
Mrs Cotterell said: “The Port and Golden Age were Mac’s second and third loves. I like to think I was his first.
“Mac would have been honoured to see you all here today. I would like to thank you all for the concern and kindness that you have shown me since Mac passed away.”
Mrs Cotterell said her husband had become ill in 2008 and had seen his illness as “an inconvenience that would get in the way of the development of the Port – he wanted to live long enough to see it through.
“He was adamant that a part of the Boathouse should be available for use by community groups free of charge.”
Fenland District Council leader Alan Melton paid his own tribute to his old friend and colleague.
He said: “Mac was a friend to everyone in Fenland - politics didn’t come into it.
“For me he was a dear personal friend, my guide and mentor, someone whose shoulder I could cry on. He was always there for me and he was also very generous – generous to a fault.
“Mac had a particular passion for the Port. He loved it and everything about it. It was very close to his heart and he was down here most days, often accompanied by Madge.
“He knew everything about it. He knew exactly what was going on and around the river - he probably had the Nene flowing through his veins.
“Mac would have been very proud of today and of Madge.”
Cllr Melton said it was fitting that there had been a Golden Age event at Coates that same morning and that nearly 70 people had been there.
“Mac was very proud of Golden Age and the fact that it is nationally recognised is testament to him,” he said.
Father Paul West, vicar of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Wisbech, said: “I speak today from the heart when I say that Mac was a great friend, mentor and guide who I will dearly miss.
“I always remember him when I speak to children and indeed people of all ages and aim to continue to share his love of Wisbech and Fenland.”
Guests included Barry Diggle, past chairman of Fenland District Council, Ron Harris, a former Labour leader, and Ernie Thompson, a former chief executive.
Stephen Barclay, MP for North East Cambridgeshire, also attended.