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Costessey’s outstanding layman received papal award

Anthony Potter, who passed away in January, made a mark through his service in both civic and church life in Norfolk over the last 60 years.

The highlight in a Catholic context came in 2004, when both Anthony and Joyce Potter received the Benemerenti award from the Pope, in recognition for their selfless devotion to the Church. This took place especially in the Diocese of East Anglia.

“Joseph, who died on January 8, is remembered for his tireless work in Costessey for St Augustine’s Voluntary Aided Primary School,” writes his son, Christopher Potter. “He was Foundation Governor from 1967 to 2001, Vice-Chairman from 1992 to 1995 and Chairman from 1995 to 2001. One of his achievements was to preserve a footpath (with public right of way) connecting St Augustine’s School with the Church of Our Lady and St Walstan. If he had not intervened, this once-rural way which kept pupils safe would have been lost in the midst of a modern housing development.”

Joseph was born in Birmingham in 1926, the first of seven children, to Louis and Catharina Potter. He was educated at the English Martyrs and St Philip’s Grammar School, both in Birmingham. Next, he went to Cotton College, north Staffordshire, followed by Oscott College where he received training for the priesthood lasting four years. In October 1948 (in his own words) his ‘theological studies came to an end’.

Following two brief jobs he made his life-long career in local government, starting on in July 1949 on an annual salary of £260. His early career was spent in the West Midlands where he met his future wife, Joyce Veronica (nee) Wilson at a Catholic parish bazaar. They were married on July 2, 1955.

In late 1963 he took up a post with Norfolk County Council Highways Department. He moved earlier than the rest of the family in order to find a suitable house. Whilst searching, he stayed with an old college friend, Fr Manley, who was parish priest at West Earlham, Norwich.

Though Anthony retired professionally as Chief Administrative Officer in 1987 he was always active throughout his life on behalf of the Church. Anthony was a member of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, Norwich Centre 1968-99; counsellor, 1968-90; secretary, 1972-90; chairman, 1990-93 and trustee, 1992-99.

He was also a member of the East Anglia Diocesan Social Welfare Commission, 1988-96 and Norwich LIFE treasurer, 1989-96. He was always interested in the education provided by the Catholic Church; his own family for two generations being involved, for which he was justly proud. His grandparents raised enough money to build a school in Birmingham ahead of a church in the same grounds.

Over the years Anthony keenly maintained a display of CTS booklets; he was probably inspired by several relatives who were active members of The Catholic Evidence Guild.

He is succeeded by his wife Joyce of 67 years, five children (his third born having predeceased him by eight days), 16 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

“Anthony never failed in his commitment to charity work,” said Christopher, “and getting the balance right between his prayer life and the practical concerns of the day.”

Pictured above is Anthony Potter.