Tributes are paid to Norfolk charity pioneer

Gordon RudgeGordonNormaRudge430, a former Norfolk turkey farmer, who also raised thousands of pounds to help educate village children in the Philippines, has died a few weeks short of his 81st birthday. Mike Wiltshire reports.

Many tributes were paid this week to the “irrepressible” Norfolk charity pioneer, the late Gordon Rudge, whose memorial service will take place on Wednesday, June 4, at Eternity Christian Centre (ECC), at 171 Earlham Green Lane, Norwich, NR5 8RF at7.30pm.

Before selling up and moving permanently to the Philippines with his wife, Norma, in 2013, Gordon was widely known in the Norwich area for his legendary fund-raising “gourmet barbeques” in a special marquee at their home in School Lane, Little Melton.  

Gordon was well-known in the South Norfolk farming community and he supplied the hotel and catering community. “I never knew such a hardworking man,” said a local butcher. “He must have slept on his feet!”

The devoted Christian couple served literally thousands of meals over a six-year period, helping to raise funds for the Tomana Children’s Trust in aid of village children’s education.
Gordon and Norma, whose former partners had both passed away with illness, were married nearly nine years ago at Eternity Christian Centre (ECC), Norwich.  Later, they visited the Philippines many times and saw the plight of village children, 100 miles north of Manila in Pangasinan Province. “We must do something more to help them,” said Gordon to his many friends in Norfolk.
The couple set about raising funds for children – Gordon had learnt catering in his youth as a cook with the Irish Guards – so they launched their summer barbecues and curry events with the help of volunteers and church friends. Groups such as the Lions’ Club and other trusts also caught the vision to help the village children.
“Gordon was an incurable optimist, and a tireless worker, always grateful for the Norwich friends who helped them in their vision,” said a colleague.  “His curries, home-made desserts and sausage rolls were legendary!”
GordonNormaRudgePhillipines450The couple, encouraged by Pastor Paddy Venner and members at ECC, were overjoyed when the Norwich-based Tomana Trust enabled their first Filipina student, Joanna, aged 16, to enter university. "It's wonderful to see what God is doing in young lives,” said Gordon, whose faith grew strongly in the past decade.
He and Norma sold up and moved to the Philippines in 2013 - a big step in their advanced years. 
In the Philippines the fund has its own trustees and is linked with the Green Pastures Presbyterian Church, led by Korean Pastor Joshua Cho.

Meanwhile, in Norwich, Chris Meakings, the Hethersett-based chairman of the fund, says the work will continue: "Gordon had such a big heart, showing kindness to a lot of people. He worked incredibly hard and also motivated others to help him."

Gordon and Norma, attended Eternity Church, Norwich, where Senior Pastor Paddy Venner said this week: “The two of them set an example for all of us in catching a vision late in life to spend the rest of their days helping children in the need in the Philippines. Their fund-raising barbecues were part of our church life - and their parenting of many younger people in our church was an example to us all.”
Gordon and Norma, who have an extensive family, first met at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, where Norma worked for many years.
Great-grandfather Gordon passed away in his sleep on May 17, two days after coming home from hospital. In many ways he became a father figure to scores of Filipino children and their families. His funeral was held in the Philippines.
He lived for many years in Diss before moving to Norwich, and leaves five sons, Paul, Perry, Patrick, Simon and Stewart. Norma has a son, Brian.
Chris Meakings, the Trust chairman, can be contacted on 01603 812805.
Pictured above:  Gordon and his wife, Norma, along with village children in the Philippines.

Published: 28/05/2014