By STEVE DOWNES
Monday, December 3, 2012
Friends and colleagues of Andrea and Keith Johnson were trying to make sense of their sudden and violent death today as they shared some precious memories.
Mr Johnson, 58, and 44-year-old Mrs Johnson were found dead with gunshot wounds on Sunday near their home at Compit Hills on the edge of Cromer.
Mr Johnson took over as NNDC leader earlier this year, while his wife was a popular member of staff at Homebase at Cromer.
Ian Hall, general manager of Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre, speaking on behalf of the theatre’s staff, said: “We are stunned to hear of such a tragedy. Keith has always given us so much encouragement at the pier with both he and Andrea coming along in person to support Seaside Special shows and the many community events held here over the years.
“Our thoughts go to all of their family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.”
Cromer deputy mayor David Pritchard, who served on the town council with Mr Johnson, said: “My wife and I were deeply shocked and upset to hear of the deaths of Andrea and Keith Johnson.
“We spent time with both of them on Friday and Andrea was happy and as chatty as usual and Keith was helping organise the street market ahead of the Cromer Christmas lights-up.
“Politics apart the four of us had become good friends and he had introduced me to many people in various functions we attended.”
Mr Johnson was a strong advocate of efforts to develop a skatepark in Cromer.
Cromer Skatepark Campaign chairman Edward Land said: “Keith was such an advocate for the skate park campaign here in Cromer. “We are totally shocked about this news and our thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends at this time.”
Geoff Agness, one of the stallholders at Cromer’s Christmas market, said: “I would like to say how shocked I am to hear the news. I was a trader at the Christmas lights switch on. Keith welcomed me and remembered I had taken part last year. I am numb with shock.”
North Norfolk district councillor Graham Jones said: “In my experience Keith was a hugely likeable man. He was so approachable and friendly and always willing to help where he could and very much a larger than life character. I will personally miss him very much.”
Mr Johnson was until recently a board member on Victory Housing Trust, whose chief executive John Archibald said: “Everyone at Victory is shocked and saddened to hear the news about Keith Johnson and his wife Andrea.
“Keith served as a board member for Victory Housing Trust for more than a year before stepping down last month. He was a real champion of affordable housing in north Norfolk, and was a great supporter of our work.
“I saw Keith only last Wednesday at a function, and he seemed to be on his usual good form. He was a delight to work with, and I know I speak for everyone at Victory - residents, staff and board members - when I say he will be greatly missed.”
Local councillor and landowner Benji Cabbell-Manners, a close friend of the couple, said: “He was really enthusiastic. He was a great person for binding the community together.
“He was doing a really fantastic job as the leader of the district council, getting everybody involved. Andrea was a nice, vivacious girl.”
Breckland council leader William Nunn said: “Terrible news about the Leader of North Norfolk District Council Keith Johnson and his wife. He was a great man to work with.”
A spokesman for Homebase, on Holt Road, Cromer, where Mrs Johnson had worked for five years, said: “It is with great sadness that we heard of our colleague Andrea’s untimely death over the weekend.
“She was a hugely valued member of the Homebase team and will be greatly missed by her colleagues. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this very difficult time.”
The couple were found by police yesterday afternoon with shotgun wounds after worried residents reported an incident at Compit Hills.
Mr Johnson was the leader of North Norfolk District Council, a former Cromer mayor and a long-serving member of both the district and town councils.
He was elected as leader of NNDC earlier this year, succeeding Helen Eales. And he threw himself into the job with vigour, embarking on a tour of town and parish councils with NNDC chief executive Sheila Oxtoby.
Mrs Johnson had worked at Homebase in Cromer for the last five years.
The couple married in Cromer in 2004.