Reeve Mary fulfils family tradition
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
Mary Sprake is carrying on a historical tradition by becoming the fifth member of her family to be made Town Reeve of Bungay.
The mother of two took on the unique role after being chosen by existing Reeve Eamon Gaffney at Tuesday’s annual town meeting.
By marriage, Mrs Sprake is the first female in a long line of Sprake’s to hold the title, with the first, Humphrey Sprake installed from 1922-23.
The chain of office, worn by the Town Reeve, is made up of a number of medallions, and in 1937 Guy Sprake added a third medallion to the silver chain to mark the coronation of King George VI.
In 1954 Percy Sprake added a fifth, which featured the town’s newly granted coat-of-arms. The final Sprake to be Reeve was Robert between 1940 and 1941.
Mrs Sprake has lived in the area for 41 years. She met her husband Anthony when they worked together in 1971 and after they got married the couple moved to Mettingham before settling in Bungay.
She began her working life as a secretary and then helped her husband set up the family building business Sprake and Tyrrell Limited. For 15 years Mrs Sprake worked as a clinical aromatherapist until she stopped at the age of 50 to study for a BA and masters degree.
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The grandmother of three has always been involved in town life as a school governor, a member of the chamber of trade and vice chairman of Black Dog Arts. She is also secretary to the Bungay branch of the NSPCC.
Two years ago she was asked to become a feoffee and join the Bungay Town Trust, which the Town Reeve heads, and is on the Alms Houses committee.
She said: “I was surprised to be chosen, but very privileged to be able to do it. We are now the only town in the country who has a Town Reeve and I thought it would be silly not to do it.”
Mrs Sprake said there were a couple of benefactors she was considering championing for the Reeve’s Appeal but they would be finalised shortly.
She said: “I would like to make a success of whatever my appeals may be and I’ll try not to make failure an option. It’s a great opportunity to make a stand.”
During his year in office Mr Gaffney raised more than £3,000 for the youth of Bungay and said he had chosen Mrs Sprake because she was new to the trust and had some great ideas.”
The earliest surviving record of a Town Reeve was William Brooke in 1536.