A former doorman of the West Runton Pavillion who was passionate about driving and dancing has died at the age of 89. 

From playing the harmonica to tapping his toes, John Mason was a man of many talents and enjoyed trying his hand at anything. 

Evacuated to Norfolk to live with relatives in Wighton, near Wells, during the summer of 1940, he enjoyed the countryside and would go on to spend the rest of his days in north Norfolk. 

Eastern Daily Press: John Mason and his parents

Born John William Mason on February 21, 1934, in Woodford Green, Essex, he was the third son of London cabbie Jack and Norfolk native Margery (nee Bunting). He was aged just three when his father died.  

His love of the country never diminished, and with his brothers Bob and Peter, the family moved to Church Street in Briston when he was 11.  

After leaving Melton Secondary school, he took an apprenticeship with local builder and undertaker, Bob Wegg. 

Eastern Daily Press: John Mason on left hand side in the Army

In 1952, he was called up for National Service and became a driver with the Royal Army Service Corps in Germany. Those two years gave him material for many anecdotes. 

On demob, he returned home to Briston and in 1956, married Jean Bacon. Together they had a daughter, Julie, born on New Year’s Eve in the notoriously cold winter of 1962.  

While living at Mill Road, he bought two condemned cottages in Church Street for £50 each and transformed them into a two-bedroomed home which the family occupied from 1966. 

Eastern Daily Press: John Mason with his first car aged in his 20s

He had left the building trade by then and was working as a washing machine engineer for Servis Domestic Appliances.   

In the early 1970s, he got a part-time job as a bingo caller at West Runton Pavilion. When the building was developed into a music venue, he became a doorman and worked with renowned bouncers Cookie (John Cook), Smurf (Rodney Whitlam) and Ronnie Carroll. 

His memories of this time inspired the book ‘What Flo Said’, which was written by Julie and told the story of West Runton Pavilion and the Royal Links Pavilion in Cromer

Eastern Daily Press: John Mason with daughter, Julie, at the unveiling of the West Runton Pavilion blue plaque at the

During the early 80s, he worked part-time for Coes as a wedding photographer. 

He also tried many different hobbies and evening classes including swimming, computing, dry slope skiing, judo, and electric organ lessons.    

In 1984, Julie married Steven Fielder and together they had three sons - Jake, Bruce and Freddie, also known as “the boys”. 

Frequent visitors to their grandparents, John would play football with them in the garden, make suits of armour from cardboard, and nail things together in his shed.  

Eastern Daily Press: John Mason with his grandsons and Jean, proudly displaying his National Service medal

He always had a harmonica in his jacket pocket – a skill taught to him by his mother – and would readily play ‘Danny Boy’ or ‘Rock Around the Clock’, amongst others.  

Paying tribute to her father, Julie said: “He was an enthusiastic dad and grandad, with a wild imagination and a great sense of humour, often cracking up with a fit of the giggles.  

“He encouraged mischief but would never tolerate unkindness.  

"As the boys grew up, he took a keen interest in their endeavours and was a source of great encouragement to them.” 

Eastern Daily Press: John Mason with Helen at a Playford Ball

In 1986, he became a driving instructor and tutored countless learner drivers across north Norfolk. He also became a general advisor for the Holt and East Dereham Citizens Advice Bureau. 

He retired in 2010 at the age of 76 and went on to care full time for Jean who had been diagnosed with vascular dementia the previous year. She died in 2015. 

He found companionship again after meeting Helen Copperthwaite at a folk dance group in late 2017.  

His daughter said: “They both felt fortunate to have found each other late in life, and also that they had learned a lot from each other.  

Eastern Daily Press: 2018 Backstage at Sundown Festival with John laying on the floor

“Despite a questionable diet of ready salted crisps, sausage rolls and pork pies, with a long list of dislikes including all vegetables except peas, John had a long and healthy life which he lived to the full. 

“He was a kind, generous, unique man with a zest for life – one of the good guys – who was liked by everybody he met.  

“He was truly a legend in our time.” 

Mr Mason died on December 11, 2023, aged 89. More than 100 people attended the celebration of his life at Cromer Crematorium last month.

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