Volunteer who spent a decade building up town’s Christmas lights dies aged 70

Len Fenn, former chairman of the Wish Upon a Star Committee responsible for Bungay's Christmas light

Len Fenn, former chairman of the Wish Upon a Star Committee responsible for Bungay's Christmas lights. Picture: Archant library. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

The man who spearheaded the organisation of Bungay’s Christmas lights scheme has died at the age of 70.

Len Fenn took over as chairman of the lights committee in 1998, and held the post for 10 years. In that time the committee developed an orange, white and blue scheme, with large orange stars a feature at all street junctions in the town centre. Initially there were also blue crescent moons worked into the display, though those were later dropped.

Mr Fenn also led the committee in fundraising for the cost of the scheme, working conscientiously to collect and replace collecting tins in shops and businesses around the town. The lighting was gradually extended to include more areas.

And it was under his leadership that the Wish Upon a Star title for the fundraising scheme was adopted.

“He didn’t treat it as volunteer work, he treated it as a job, and he was meticulous in everything he did,” his wife, Jackie said. “He wrote lots of letters, applied for grants and organised fundraising. He loved doing it – he always said if you are going to do something, do it properly.”

Born in Bow in London, Mr Fenn worked as a trouser cutter in a garment factory when he left school, and remained in the rag trade for most of his life. Following his marriage to Jackie 48 years ago the couple lived in Essex.

In 1984 he set up his own business, the clothing manufacturing factory Northlines at Halesworth, and the couple moved to Bungay a year later. At its height the business employed 50 people, and had customers in many parts of the world.

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Mr and Mrs Fenn were supporters of the NSPCC and helped at the Bungay Marathon, which raised funds for the charity, for a number of years. Following his retirement, he enjoyed travelling and they visited China, America and Canada, an also spent time caravanning in France.

Mr Fenn was first diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago, but it was in the last three years that his health deteriorated, though his wife said he always remained positive and optimistic.

He leaves his wife, two daughters and four grandchildren.

The funeral service for him will be at Holy Trinity Church in Bungay on Thursday, March 15, at 11am.