Photo gallery: Norfolk actor Gary Higgs’ family pay tribute to the talented performer
PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:00 31 January 2014
The family of a Norfolk actor who died the day a show he was due to perform in opened, have spoken of how his legacy will live on and how he married the love of his life in a beautiful ceremony just days before he died.
Twenty-three-year-old Gary Higgs, from Holt, and his new wife Stephanie Moore had both been due to perform in the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society’s (NNOS) production of Anything Goes at Norwich Theatre Royal this week, but instead the show is being performed in his memory after the talented young performer, who had cystic fibrosis, passed away on Monday.
He leaves behind his new wife Stephanie, his parents Steve and Julie, and his brothers Adam and Jim, who in a family statement described Mr Higgs’ immense passion for performing from childhood and how acting brought him and his wife together as “two destined souls.”
The couple, who lived together in Norwich and both starred in NNOS’s 2013 show Sweeney Todd, first met at a musical summer school in Scarborough and quickly fell in love, with Mr Higgs asking his future wife to be his girlfriend as the sun set on Cromer Pier.
They got engaged on their six-month anniversary at Disneyland Paris last February and had planned to marry this summer, but instead brought the ceremony forward to last Friday.
The Higgs’ family tribute said: “Gary and Stephanie decided between them that all they wanted was to get married to each other. “An emergency registrar was called and the whole wedding was planned and took place in less than eight hours in Gary’s hospital room on Hethel Ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
“The day went superbly and both bride and groom were beaming from ear to ear. Many tears were shed by family, very close friends and hospital staff, but purely out of love and happiness at seeing these two destined souls being joined together in marriage.
“Despite being the proudest husband in the world and looked after by his even prouder wife, Gary sadly passed away on Monday, January 27.”
In their tribute, the Higgs family also highlighted Mr Higgs’ impressive theatrical resume which began at age three when he got up on stage and sang Away In A Manger at his grandmother’s 60th birthday - despite it being the middle of March.
They also spoke of how Mr Higgs - who grew up in Holt and attended the Owl Playschool, Holt Primary School and Sheringham High School before moving to Paston College in North Walsham - refused to let cystic fibrosis get the way of his love of performing and they praised the excellent care Mr Higgs received from the paediatric and adult CF teams at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
At Sheringham High, Mr Higgs performed in many Christmas pantomimes and shows including Honk and We Will Rock You.
He studied drama at Paston College, and he joined the Far East Theatre Company where he showed his talent for more serious drama in shows like Stone Cold and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
At age 15 he was cast as Tiny Tim in Sheringham Little Theatre’s (SLT) A Christmas Carol, a role he played only two weeks after having been discharged from hospital following an operation. This led onto other SLT roles, including in several Old Time Music Halls and The Boyfriend.
With Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society, he performed in Half a Sixpence, Me and My Girl and Calendar Girls. He went on to play Barnaby in Hello Dolly! with NNOS and also Toby in Sweeney Todd. It was his second time being in Sweeney Todd, having also appeared in a Norfolk Youth Music Theatre production of the show.
The Higgs’ family said Mr Higgs touched the lives of so many people and that they hope money raised in his memory will help others living with cystic fibrosis.
Their tribute said: “Even though he was only alive for 23 years he left a legacy that will live on for many more years. Facebook has been flooded with messages and memories of Gary and in his name his family are collecting money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust Norfolk Branch who do so much to support CF families locally. They will also be fundraising later in the year for the research side of the CF Trust, in the hope that one day a cure can be found for this cruel disease and no other family will have to deal with the heartbreak of losing a loved one in this way.”
• Mr Higgs’ funeral will take place on Wednesday, February 12 and be a private family affair. This will be followed by a celebration of Gary’s life at the Pavilion Theatre, on Cromer Pier, on the same day at 5.30pm, Anybody who knew Mr Higgs, as well as friends of his wife and the Higgs and Moore families are welcome.
Donations in Mr Higgs’ memory to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Norfolk Branch, can be made via Allcock Family Funeral Service, 96a City Road, Norwich NR1 2HD or via a new website which is currently being set up at www.garyandstephaniehiggs.co.uk
• Collections for Cystic Fibrosis Trust are also being made at each performance of Anything Goes at the Theatre Royal this week. The Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society production runs until Saturday. Visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk