One of Bungay's 'most colourful characters' dies aged 68

jan dungey

Jan Dungey pictured in 1984 when she moved to Bungay. - Credit: Supplied

One of Bungay's "most colourful characters", who was central to the town's art scene, has died aged 68.

Described as "inspiring, humorous and creative", Jan Dungey grew up in Maidstone, Kent, where as a teenager she had a great interest in nature and was a junior Judo champion.

She moved to Bungay in 1984 and, with other creative colleagues, she set up Rural Arts Service and Bungay Community Arts Project.

jan dungey and maggie campbell

Jan Dungey with Maggie Campbell c.1987. - Credit: Supplied

Their first projects were a Giant Pancake Day celebration, followed by the Ash, Flint & Snail project.

For the Bungay Regatta in 1984 6ft 2ins tall Jan became an 8ft heron and hauled a boat up the Waveney by the light of maritime flares.

jan dungey

Jan Dungey wearing a heron mask in 1984. - Credit: Supplied

In 1986, Jan conceived and set up The Company of Imagination with a group of women artists and makers.

She directed and performed in many projects over the following years and between 1985 and 1992 the company undertook other creative projects in Beccles, Lowestoft, Oulton Broad and The Saints, as well as residencies across the UK.

Most Read

Later Jan set up BungayNet, ran African drumming workshops, joined the Christmas Lights committee, initiated Black Dog Arts group and co-founded Waveney and Blyth Arts.

jan dungey

Jan Dungey with a heron mask towing a boat up the River Waveney in 1984. - Credit: Supplied

Long-time friend of Jan's, Nicky Stainton said: "Jan had fantastic energy, she was inspiring, creative, down to earth and had a great sense of humour.

"I'm sad and heartbroken that she has passed away but I will always remember how down to earth she was.

"She has left a huge legacy in the town and since her death I have had a tsunami of comments from people saying how she transformed their lives.

"Her wild and creative side will be missed by many."

In the late 1990s, aged just 45, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Determined not to be defeated by this debilitating disease she decorated her crutches to look like giraffe legs.

In recent years she had become bed-bound but was still active via her electronic devices.

She contracted Covid-19 last week and passed away at James Paget Hospital on January 21, surrounded by her family and loved ones.

She leaves her long-term partner, Steve Cooke, and adored rabbit, Roger.

There will be a commemorative event on March 20, and anyone who would like more details should email Nicky Stainton at nmstainton@gmail.com.