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‘Fitting tribute’ paid to Norfolk town crier and theatre stalwart

PUBLISHED: 11:55 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:48 25 April 2018

Holt Ridge Morris performing. Picture: SLT

Holt Ridge Morris performing. Picture: SLT

Archant

A “fitting tribute” concert was held at Sheringham Little Theatre in memory of bushy-bearded, booming-voiced town crier Tony Nelson.

The event was compered by Julie Reinger. Picture: SLTThe event was compered by Julie Reinger. Picture: SLT

Mr Nelson, who died aged 78 last June, was a key player at the theatre, where he acted, directed and had two spells as chairman.

Performers, friends and family filled the venue on Saturday night for a variety show, which raised £960 for the theatre’s youth work.

Topping the bill were the Sheringham Shantymen whose leader Brian Farrow recalled the banter they had with Mr Nelson, who would hold up signs such as “free ear plugs available.” They also sang a poignant song penned in his memory called ‘We remember a man with a bell’.

Compère BBC Look East weather presenter Julie Reinger, who appeared as Fairy Kindheart in the 2004 panto after being introduced to the theatre by Mr Nelson, opened the show in town crier style, and said Mr Nelson was instrumental in making the theatre what it is today. She also reprised her fairy role for the finale.

Sheringham Shantymen in action. Picture: SLTSheringham Shantymen in action. Picture: SLT

The show programme reflected Mr Nelson’s love of music, drama and poetry. It included dancing from Holt Ridge Morris, jocular poetry by Mr Nelson’s daughter Brigid, a capella songs from Roger Bemrose and friends, an extract from Harold Pinter’s play The Dumb Waiter by Simon Thompson and Harry Williams, music from The I Dunno jazz band, and comedy from family friend Ned Seago. The Shantymen signed off with a singalong, joined by Mr Nelson’s widow Hilary.

Mr Nelson’s chairmanship included a critical spell securing a Lottery grant for a revamp. His death came just hours before it was announced he had been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community where he was also heavily involved in the carnival.

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “It was a marvellous evening full of entertainment and fond memories which was a fitting tribute to Tony’s life, cultural passions and contribution to our theatre.

“This theatre would not be thriving today without the work Tony did.”

Tony Nelson with panto actress Rachel Waring. Picture: SLTTony Nelson with panto actress Rachel Waring. Picture: SLT

People can still donate by bringing cash, or sending cheques, to Sheringham Little Theatre.

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