Godmanchester Cambridgeshire Community Association Online

Harry Foren

A year ago Godmanchester Community Association lost Harry, our life President and to many a good friend. At the time obituaries appeared telling of Harry's remarkable life. It is, of course, a privilege to pay our respects in this edition of The Bridge but also appropriate to try to give some impression of what he meant in particular to those in the Community Association. 

It was about 19 years ago that I first met Harry at an Association AGM chaired by Ann Looker. He and I were both recent residents having a tentative look at getting a bit more involved in our adopted town. Harry had recently retired and was thought by his son Chris to have moved to his bungalow in Holmehill to "become an old bore" - far from it. Duly signed up to the committee Harry launched into a long and influential relationship with his Association and town. 

There was never an event to which he did not make a very active, usually innovative input, driving many of us backsliders along with his enthusiasm and ability to make us feel guilty. Nothing was too much trouble for him in making a go of things. 

His gregarious nature meant that he built up an enormous network of friends in the town - everyone knew Harry and he was great at sharing his friendships around. 

Many children in  the town knew him as an honorary grandparent- across several generations. This was reinforced by his years of active involvement in supporting the Community Primary School, from which he graduated into his role as Father Christmas - indeed during his stays in hospital he was frequently nursed by people who remembered him fondly that way from years before. 

Harry rose through the Association ranks and, as our Secretary, embraced even wide sections of the community. His accession as President was only natural on the retirement of Pat Doherty. When he turned 80, rather than a quiet tea party, Harry threw a major "do" at the QE School attended by a multitude of friends, his brother and twin sisters (the girls) and colleagues going back to World War Two. He never lost his contacts. 

At that party he became our Life President. He was supposed to slow down but didn't, maintaining a strong involvement as a 'facilitator' bringing people together and persuading them that, what ever it was, they could do it. I cannot close without mentioning Harry's way with the ladies. He was in his element, for example, in presenting cheques to female representatives of local charities!

Throughout his retirement he was supported by his dear friend and neighbour Vera who, apart from stealing his Father Christmas outfit, describes him as her perfect gentleman. Harry Foren touched many lives and made a difference. The Association will not forget.

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