A west Suffolk community group has been left "devastated" and "saddened" by the death of its 47-year-old former chair. 

Stephen Higgins, who joined Bury St Edmunds for Black Lives (BSE4BL) when the group formed in 2020 and took on the role of chair from the start, has been described as the "driving force of BSE4BL's ideas" by those that worked alongside him. 

A statement on behalf of the group said: "We remember him as a powerful activist.

East Anglian Daily Times: has been described as the 'driving force of BSE4BL's ideas' has been described as the 'driving force of BSE4BL's ideas' (Image: BSE4BL)

"Stephen was so insightful and open and engaging in everything he did with us and with young people in schools.

"He had a way of quickly understanding what he was dealing with, and was so adept at listening, and gently but impactfully challenging.

"When Stephen spoke in front of a room of adults or school children about race and racism, they hung on to his every word, he was amazing, he was a person who knew the impact of words." 

East Anglian Daily Times: Stephen Higgins, former chair of BSE4BLStephen Higgins, former chair of BSE4BL (Image: BSE4BL)

Mr Higgins was the lead singer in a band called Rebel Unit, and also enjoyed film making, documentary making, writing and spoken word.

A spokesman for BSE4BL said: "His want for change was so impactful and his resilience to push through and do the work whilst dealing with personal health battles was inspiring, he’ll never been forgotten for the change we know he made. He will always be remembered." 

Bury St Edmunds 4 Black Lives was set up in 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the United States. 

Over the years the group has held regular meetings and marches and have been involved in events celebrating the work of people of colour in the county. 

It also offers affinity groups within schools to provide a supportive space where students can connect and share their experiences.