Family pays tribute to 'a true gentleman' and club stalwart

Graham Smith of Soham Staploe Rotary Club

Graham Smith was the longest-serving member of Soham Staploe Rotary Club after joining soon after it first founded in 1975. - Credit: Supplied/Family

The family of a “true gentleman” who became the longest-serving member of his local rotary club have paid tribute to him. 

Graham Smith joined Soham Staploe Rotary Club soon after it formed in 1975 and helped raise thousands of pounds for the local community and charities over a 45-year period. 

Liz Palmer, Graham’s daughter, said: “He would be more concerned about other people than about himself.” 

Graham died last month at the age of 81. 

Having grown up in Norfolk, he began working at Barclays Bank, first in Downham Market before moving to branches in Cambridge, Ely and Soham as manager. 

While in work, Graham volunteered with the rotary club and took on roles such as club president, accounts auditor and secretary. 

“He would be doing the Christmas collection every year, counting the money he had raised for 40 or so years,” said Liz. 

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“He was very generous with his time, making sure other people were comfortable.” 

Graham was also recognised for his work at the rotary club with a Paul Harris Fellowship as well as an engraved whisky glass on reaching 40 years of membership. 

As part of his fundraising efforts, Graham would be seen collecting money at Christmas time at his nearby supermarket most years. 

Geoff Fisher, of Soham Staploe Rotary Club, said: “He was a really lovely man.

Graham Smith of Soham Staploe Rotary Club

Graham Smith performed roles such as president, accounts auditor and secretary during his loyal service to Soham Staploe Rotary Club. - Credit: Supplied/Family

“He would do anything, wherever he was needed. 

“He had time for everybody.” 

Outside of rotary club duties, Graham had a passion for sailing, which grew after winning a newspaper competition and a week’s sailing on the south coast. 

After joining Grafham Water Sailing Club, the keen sailor would also tour around Europe. 

“He finished sailing in 2009 after around 40-50 years and we think he accumulated over 26,000 nautical miles,” Anthony Smith, Graham’s son, said. 

He also enjoyed regularly taking his granddaughter to Littleport and District Pony Club events. 

Graham was one to feature in the background away from the limelight, but it is his lasting impact on people that will be remembered more fondly. 

His daughter-in-law said Graham was “a true gentleman.

“He had a huge amount of integrity and was a real family man.” 

Graham leaves wife Lynette, two children and four grandchildren. 

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