Tributes to community stalwart and former mayor with 'positive attitude'

Sudbury mayor Peter Goodchild launching the new £15,000 sea scout Valiant safety boat Kingfisher on the River Stour in 2008.

Sudbury mayor Peter Goodchild launching the new £15,000 sea scout Valiant safety boat Kingfisher on the River Stour in 2008. - Credit: Archant 2008

Former mayor of Sudbury Peter Goodchild, who for decades was a tireless stalwart of the town’s community life, has died aged 90.

Peter served two terms as mayor in the 2000s, and was known not only for his town council work but also for his long connection with Sudbury Rotary Club, and enthusiastic support for town twinning.

He and his wife Valerie, who celebrated their golden wedding in 2019, also organised the town’s popular Christmas Tree Festival on behalf of Rotary for several years.

Peter Goodchild started the Christmas Tree festival.

The Christmas tree festival in St Peters Church in Sudbury. Peter Goodchild admires the EADT and Mercury Christmas tree. - Credit: Archant 2011

Roger Green, a long-time Rotary colleague and friend, said: “Peter had an infectiously positive attitude to life.

“I shall always remember him with a smile on his face, generously offering up his time and energy to one good cause after another, and with a good word to say about most things. His sense of humour made working with him a joy.

“Peter joined the Rotary Club in 1995, always being one of the first to sign up for the latest project.

Peter Goodchild (Sudbury Rotary Club) and Val Tyrrell (Sudbury Talbots) collecting money for the Phi

Peter Goodchild (Sudbury Rotary Club) and Val Tyrrell (Sudbury Talbots) collecting money for the Philippines appeal in Sudbury. - Credit: Archant

“He was the only member of the club to be elected as President twice and was further honoured with a Paul Harris fellowship, the highest award available to Rotarians."

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Peter was born in Clapton in 1932, and grew up in Hornchurch. He did national service in the Army and spent 12 years in the Territorial Army where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant.

After a variety of civilian jobs he came to Sudbury in 1964 to run the Bear Inn. While there he met Valerie, who had just started as a trainee reporter on the Suffolk Free Press.

Sudbury Mercury Caption: Sudbury Town Mayor Peter Goodchild commemorates the Delphi Club

Sudbury Town Mayor Peter Goodchild commemorates the Delphi Club coming under Sudbury Town Council management. - Credit: Archant

They married in 1969 and had two children, Paul and Clare. His family was one of the great joys of his life, and Valerie described her husband as "a truly gentle man".

After leaving the Bear, Peter joined Sudbury-based marine engineers Brunton's Propellers, later becoming sales manager responsible for UK and international clients.

Meanwhile, Valerie’s career in journalism included time as editor of the West Suffolk Mercury series during the 1980s.

Peter Goodchild with ex footballer Jamie Redknapp opening the new stand of AFC Sudbury.

Peter Goodchild with ex footballer Jamie Redknapp opening the new stand of AFC Sudbury. - Credit: Archant

Peter’s favourite pastimes included target shooting - he was Suffolk .22 rifle champion three times - and 'messing about in boats'.

He and Valerie crewed for friends, and he also helped with holidays afloat for disabled people.

Holidays abroad, and an appreciation of fine food and wine, were other passions they both shared.

Peter Goodchild aboard the new safety boat in 2008.

Peter Goodchild aboard the new safety boat in 2008. - Credit: Archant 2008

Prompted partly by Peter's deteriorating eyesight, they looked to downsize their home and in 2014 moved to Bangor, Northern Ireland, where Clare lived with her husband Mark and daughters Amie and Caitlin.

Valerie says it was not an easy decision with Martin, who is Peter's son from his first marriage, as well as Paul and grandchildren Elisha and Kyle still living England.

They enjoyed seven years in their new home before Peter was diagnosed with stomach cancer in October 2021. He died peacefully at home last week.

Peter Goodchild (right) at the opening of Select Biosciences in Acton in 2008. 

Peter Goodchild (right) at the opening of Select Biosciences in Acton in 2008. - Credit: Archant 2008

Sudbury MercurySudbury mayor Peter Goodchild presents newly-qualified Citizens Advice advisor

Sudbury mayor Peter Goodchild presents newly-qualified Citizens Advice advisor Malcolm Burge with his qualification. - Credit: Archant

Following Peter's private cremation a service of thanksgiving will take place at 2pm on Saturday, June 25 at S Clarke & Son’s Funeral Church, Bangor. Live streaming will be available at www.sclarkeandson.co.uk