Beccles council clerk retires after 30 years at the heart of town life

Jula Janney is retiring after 30 years as clerk for Beccles Town Council.PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Jula Janney is retiring after 30 years as clerk for Beccles Town Council.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A Beccles figurehead who has been at the centre of town life for three decades is retiring today.

Deputy town clerk Jula Janney will finally have some minutes to herself after working for the town council for 30 years.

Mrs Janney started her career at Cefas in Pakefield working in the scientific library and typing pool before moving to Anglian Tanks and Vessels based at Ellough as a secretary.

When the company moved to Lowestoft she took a job in production planning at William Clowes printing works before leaving work for 12 years to bring up her children Caroline, Lindsay and Neil.

She said: “I wasn’t working until my friend Ann Rose who did some part time work typing at the council asked me if I would be interested in taking her job. I started off doing admin as a secretary and I worked eight hours a week, two hours a day.

“I started working with Fred Leah and then David Summons was here for over 10 years. Sadly he had Parkinson’s disease and his illness took a hold so he found he couldn’t do the evening meetings, so they asked me to do the minutes. I found my hours extended to 10 hours and it kept going up and up until I was doing 30 hours a week.”

Mrs Janney was made deputy town clerk in 2004 after filling in as town clerk for a previous employee.

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Her role has been to provide admin for the town allotments, run Beccles market and organise Mr Tidy’s schedule, as well as provide the minutes for planning, grants and assets and environment, act as secretary for the town’s mayor and fill in for current town clerk Claire Boyne when she was away.

“When I first came, the town clerk and deputy were in one room and the back room was an archive run by Frank Denson who had his office downstairs, it’s certainly changed a lot and I think I’ve seen about 26 different mayors go through the chamber.

“I’ll miss just being here. We have laughed a lot and I have met some absolutely wonderful people. Some councillors have been wary at first, but once they have got to know me some have become great friends.

“The workload has been really intense and I won’t miss worrying over it, but I will miss Claire. She has been the best town clerk in my eyes.”

Mrs Janney has already got three holidays planned and is looking forward to spending some quality time with her three children and eleven grandchildren.

She also plans to spend more time painting, playing golf and catching up with old friends.

And as chairman of Beccles Community Arts, she will still continue to be responsible for the town’s Harvest Moon Festival, which is held annually at Beccles Quay.

She said: “It has hit me now that I’m leaving. I’m feeling a bit shell shocked, reality has kicked in that I won’t be here next week and it just feels odd. But I’m 65 and I’ve done four extra years now as I should have retired at 61.

“I’ve had lots of people come in and give me gifts of flowers, champagne. People have said they will miss my smile and laughter, I suppose you don’t expect that from a council office.”

A retirement party will take place tonight at the Royal British Legion in Beccles and there will be a special presentation made to Mrs Janney during Tuesday’s council meeting.

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