Delia Smith pays tribute after Norwich author’s death

Delia Smith has led further tributes to a critically-acclaimed author and former University of East Anglia graduate and teacher who is believed to have drowned near Norwich.

As previously reported, the body of Stephen Foster, 48, who lived at Thorpe Road, Norwich, was discovered at Trowse Meadow, Whitlingham Broad after he had been reported missing to police.

Yesterday, his partner of more than 11 years, Trezza Azzopardi, who also teaches at the UEA where Mr Foster used to be a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow, described him as a 'talented and passionate man who excelled at everything he did'.

Norwich's cookery queen and Canaries' joint majority shareholder Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn-Jones, have paid their own tribute to Mr Foster.

She said: 'I first 'met' Stephen when I read his book 'She stood there laughing' in 2003. It was my hot Christmas choice for a newspaper.

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'Having an empathy with football supporters I understood it utterly and it made me laugh out loud more than any other book. He then wrote to thank me and we invited Stephen and Jack – the star of the book – to a match as he lived right by Carrow Road and from then on we continued to be friends.

'We are devastated to have now lost him, but will always, always remember him. He was one of those special people you love instantly who had great depth. Although he was such a talented writer, there wasn't a trace of ego in him. He was warm and easy going, with a wry humour that always made us laugh. The last time we played Stoke I asked why they weren't singing Delilah. If they do we'll score he said, and true enough.

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'The last time we saw him was outside Yellows looking radiant and happy as Stoke had reached the FA Cup Final and he was writing a book about it. We are both so sad that we have lost such a special friend. England has lost one of her most passionate football supporters and one of her truly great writers.'

Mr Foster, a fiction and non-fiction writer and father-of-one who was born in Stoke on Trent, taught creative writing at the UEA having graduated from its creative writing MA course in 1998. After graduating, he became a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow and helped students with their writing – something he has continued to do at the Writers' Centre in Norwich, where he also taught.

Chris Gribble, chief executive of Writers' Centre Norwich, said: 'It was always a pleasure working with Stephen Foster; a charismatic and very talented writer who will be greatly missed.

'He recently delivered a short-course for us here at Writers' Centre Norwich and was a warm and well-loved tutor who really brought the best out in his students. Stephen was always fantastic company and was able to relate to a wide range of people. This made him not only a great writer, but a great person to be around. Our thoughts are with his family, particularly Trezza and his son.'

Katy Carr, marketing manager at the centre, described him as a 'unique and special writer and person, who will be missed by so many people'.

While Leila Telford, resources manager, added: 'He was a friend, enthusiastic in his love of soul music, dedicated to his football team and incredibly proud of his son's achievements. He will be sadly missed by more people in Norwich than he could ever have imagined.'

Mr Foster, whose son Jack, a former City College Norwich student who together with Archie Lamb, son of North Norfolk MP Norman, launched their own record label, Takeover Entertainment, in 2006, moved to Norwich at the age of 32, where he began writing.He went to the Norwich School of Art and Design, now Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) where he studied for a degree in cultural studies during the mid 1990s.

Krzysztof Fijalkowski, a lecturer in fine art at NUCA, remembers Mr Foster from his time there. He said Mr Foster never lost sight of his working background and was always an 'incredibly friendly and approachable' person.

Mr Foster, who was to be a judge in this year's EDP-Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards, supported by Writers' Centre Norwich and CUE East, was found at 7.50pm on Thursday.

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