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Tributes paid to Halesworth heroine who worked tirelessly to promote town’s unique beauty

Tamsyn Imison of Halesworth has died aged 80. Picture: Courtesy of Tamsyn's family.

Tamsyn Imison of Halesworth has died aged 80. Picture: Courtesy of Tamsyn's family.

Archant

Tributes have been paid to Halesworth’s green-fingered heroine, known for her work transforming the town’s streets, gardens and park.

Tamsyn Imison of Halesworth has died aged 80. Picture: Courtesy of Tamsyn's family. Tamsyn Imison of Halesworth has died aged 80. Picture: Courtesy of Tamsyn's family.

Tamsyn Imison, who put Halesworth on the map through the prestigious Anglia in Bloom competition, died aged 80 at her home on September 18 after battling cancer.

Mrs Imison started her career as a scientific illustrator but went into teaching in 1972, a profession she continued for nearly 30 years. Between 1984 and 2000, she was headteacher of Hampstead Comprehensive School in north London.

In 1998 she was made a Dame for her contribution to education in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

When she retired from active teaching, she continued to be a passionate advocate for comprehensive schooling and creativity in learning.

Tamsyn Imison with the Anglia in Bloom Best Small Town award. Picture: Archant. Tamsyn Imison with the Anglia in Bloom Best Small Town award. Picture: Archant.

In 2005 she moved to Halesworth with husband Michael, and there she put her organisational skills to good use running Halesworth in Bloom and achieving many gold and special awards including, in 2015, Best Small Town in East Anglia, and in 2016, a first Green Flag award for the town park.

Mr Imison, 82, said: “When we came here 12 years ago there were planters in the town but they were being totally neglected.

“So Tamsyn took it on and said it was the least she could do. The then council chairman Ezra Leverett suggested that she should enter the town for Anglia in Bloom and friends Tony and Jen Eden introduced her to a judge who explained what it involved.

“She was very good at leading by example and people would see her on her knees weeding in the Thoroughfare often at 7am and think we must help, we can’t let this lady who is getting on for her 80s do it all by herself. And so it snowballed from there.”

Tamsyn Imison with Halesworth's Green Flag award. Picture: Archant. Tamsyn Imison with Halesworth's Green Flag award. Picture: Archant.

Halesworth in Bloom now has around 100 volunteers keeping the town looking its best, and just before Mrs Imison’s death, the results of this year’s competition were announced with Halesworth achieving gold in the small town category, as well as taking silver for Halesworth Town Park and for Halesworth Closed Cemetery.

In 2016 Mrs Imison also ran a successful campaign to save the station barrow crossing, and was an enthusiastic member of Halesworth Community Choir and the Yox Vox singing group.

In July this year she completed her last great project - the Hooker Bicentennial - giving tours of the new Hooker trail, unveiling the plaque she commissioned, and organising the lecture at The Cut arts centre.

“There hasn’t been a day when we haven’t had at least six cards come through the door,” said Mr Imison. “We’ve had hundreds and have been overwhelmed with the offers of help. It seems virtually everyone she met she influenced for the good and made them feel better about themselves in some way.

Tamsyn Imison litter picking in Halesworth Town Park, helping to retain the town's Green Flag award. Picture: Nick Butcher. Tamsyn Imison litter picking in Halesworth Town Park, helping to retain the town's Green Flag award. Picture: Nick Butcher.

“She had a real sense of humour and even in her last days she was cracking jokes.

“She was a very caring and warm person. I was so lucky to have her in my life and she was always very supportive of me.”

In her spare time, Mrs Imison loved to draw and paint and actively supported many artists and art lovers in the local area and beyond.

Together the couple had three children Candace, Katharine and Thomas, although sadly Thomas died of a heart condition in 1984 at the age of 17. She was also a proud grandmother.

A humanist celebration for the life of Mrs Imison is being held tomorrow, October 6, at The Cut arts centre in Halesworth at 2pm. Instead of flowers, people are asked to make a donation to one of her most heartfelt causes - the fight to provide comprehensive education to every child.

Donations can be left in the collection box at the celebration, or visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/comprehensivefuture

Copies of Mrs Imison’s book, Comprehensive Achievements: All Our Geese are Swans, will also be on sale in the foyer.

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