Potton prepares to say farewell to pillar of the community Eric Jakes – stalwart councillor, churchwarden and charity fundraiser who could claim title of ‘Mr Potton’

Eric Jakes, photographed in 2009.

Eric Jakes, photographed in 2009. - Credit: Archant

Potton is set to say farewell to a true pillar of the community tomorrow at the funeral of a stalwart councillor, churchwarden and charity fundraiser who could claim the title of ‘Mr Potton’.

Frederick Jakes – a lifelong Potton man and freeman of the town who was known as Eric – died in a Sandy care home last month aged 88 after a life in which he, among other things, served on Potton Town Council for 53 years.

Eric’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church in Potton, where he worshipped from childhood and was a churchwarden for 36 years, as well as teaching Sunday school and sitting on the parochial church council.

Dave Thompson, speaking on behalf of the St Mary’s congregation, said: “Eric had lived in Potton for nearly all his life but it was in later years that he was awarded the MBE for services to the town in so many ways.

“Together with a colleague, he would raise a large amount of money for the Children’s Society by serving tea, coffee and biscuits after every Morning Service at St Mary’s. He was also an early member of the organising team for the monthly parish lunch – which, since 1993, has raised thousands of pounds for St John’s Hospice at Moggerhanger.

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“A life dedicated to his town, his church and the local schools, Eric will not be forgotten.”

The son of a market gardener, Eric received the MBE for services to the town in 1995. He chaired the former Mid Beds and Biggleswade Rural district councils as an independent, serving from 1964 to 1995.

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He was also a governor at Burgoyne Middle School from its opening in 1976 until 2005, and at Potton and Sutton lower schools.

His working life began at the age of 14, when he started on the railways. He remained there for his entire career, apart from a period of national service in which he operated railways in Egypt with the Royal Engineers.

He ended his railway career in Stevenage, where he retired in 1988 after 46 years’ service.

Later in life Eric chaired Potton Consolidated Charities, which originally awarded money to assist further education, but widened the scope of its awards.

Eric never married, and went on numerous trips to places of religious interest such as the Holy Land and Oberammergau.

At Eric’s wish, his funeral at 11am tomorrow will be conducted by Rev Ian Arthur, who was rector of Potton while Eric was a churchwarden. All are welcome.

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