Tributes paid to church and football league founder
A man who helped to found a Norwich church and the Norfolk Christian Football League, and also looked after over 100 children, has died at the age of 80. Keith Morris reports.
Derek Cate was a founder member of Meadow Way Chapel in Hellesdon and of the Norfolk Christian Football League, which honoured him in 2014 for his service to the league.
Together with his late wife Marjorie, who died in 2009 aged 69, they brought up three children of their own as well as helping to look after more than 100 youngsters over the years and fostering six or seven young people at their home.
Derek moved to Norfolk in the 1960s after being stationed in the county with the RAF and worked as a sales manager.
One of the Norfolk Christian Football League’s founder members, Derek, recalled playing in the first-ever recorded inter-church football match in Norwich on Boxing Day morning 1967 between Surrey Chapel and South Park Chapel. This game started off the process towards the formation of a league proper in 1978 following friendly matches between half-a-dozen teams over the intervening ten years.
In 2014 Derek was given the Sam Hollinger Award for his outstanding, loyal and self-sacrificing service to the League over many years.
He was first involved in the league proper as a player for Meadow Way Chapel. He then became player-manager and was later elected as league chairman, with his son Christopher as league secretary.
League chairman, Jim Green paid tribute: “We remember the humour, common sense and faith which accompanied Derek’s leadership and support of the league and he remained an active and supportive member of the League’s Council of Reference.
“When asked to present the trophies at our adult cup finals day in his cloth cap and overcoat, he was a familiar, reassuring and authentic figure. When it came to addressing the teams and the crowd, he spoke with clarity, authority, humour, total connectedness with the world of football and with the Gospel of Jesus. I found it moving and impressive, and is a memory of Derek I will treasure.”
Derek’s daughter Andrea, 51, told the EDP: "Dad had a zest for life like no other I've known. He always saw the best in people and gave of himself even to strangers. He was there for me through thick and thin, making me feel very special. He did so remarkably well, despite modern technology for 10 years after mum passed away and was the best Grandad anyone could ever have. I'm so proud of him - he lived his life well."
She added: "He would just go out of his way so much for so many people. He had a complete and utter zest for life and for people. It was all absorbing."
His sons have also paid their own tribute to Derek. Christopher, 49, said: "Nothing was ever too much trouble for Dad. If you needed something he'd get it for you and he'd be at your house within the hour with it whether you liked it or not. People were at the centre of his life and he loved nothing more than to share his enthusiasm for the things that lit up his life."
Jonathan, 54, said: "Dad was incredibly loyal, specifically in relation to our choir. We could always count on him to be an appreciative audience member."
Kevin Medler, a former elder at Meadow Way, said: "Derek served faithfully both as an Elder and Trustee over many years at Meadow Way Chapel. His love for the Lord and desire to serve the fellowship at Meadow Way was seen through his love of drama and preaching the Gospel message in ways that were engaging for all ages.
"Derek had a wonderful gift of holding the attention of people through stories and humor. His creativity and love of games was always a blessing to the folk at Meadow Way whether it was for a celebration party or a church social outreach event Derek was your man!"
Fellow Meadow Way founders David and Ruth Southgate paid tribute, saying: "We were so grateful when Derek and Marjorie decided to come and help us in establishing the work in Hellesdon, now Meadow Way Chapel. Derek made Sunday School fun and brought the message of Jesus alive using so many different illustrations. Crowds of children came and much of this was due to Derek. We sometimes see these children (who are now adults) in our shop and they remember Derek and Marjorie with great fondness and talk about the happy times they spent at Sunday School.
"Although Derek did not have building skills he was happy to do labouring work to help us with the building of Meadow Way Chapel. For many years we organised a holiday for the over 50s at Sizewell Hall, Derek played a big part in this with his quizzes , games competitions etc., the people loved it. We will always be grateful to Derek for all his enthusiasm, fun and faithfulness to the work at Meadow Way - he will be greatly missed."
Derek was involved in the Mission England crusade at Carrow Road in Norwich back in 1984 and was proud to have met and shaken the hand of Dr Billy Graham himself.
He was also known to turn his hand to stand-up comedy and he also regularly sung harmonies with his three children.
His funeral service will take place at Meadow Way Chapel, Hellesdon, on Thursday, November 21 at 3pm. All are welcome.
Pictured top is Derek Cate and, above (third from right) with his children Jonathan (left), Andrea and Christopher (far right).
Please add you memories of, or tributes to, Derek below.