‘Escaping bombs and stealing seagull eggs’ - Tributes paid to village’s ‘one of a kind’

PUBLISHED: 06:34 16 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:35 16 October 2020

Tributes have been paid to Hethersett's 'one of a kind' Basil Vautier after he died, aged 88. Picture: VAUTIER FAMILY

Tributes have been paid to Hethersett's 'one of a kind' Basil Vautier after he died, aged 88. Picture: VAUTIER FAMILY


Tributes have been paid to a “one of a kind” community stalwart after an inquest ruled he died of natural causes.

Basil Vautier, who died at the age of 88, has been described by his loved ones as “a breath of fresh air with his sunny outlook on life”.

An avid supporter of the Hethersett community, he had a “boundless energy” which meant he was regularly seen cycling around the village, tending gardens, and carrying out duties at Hethersett Methodist Church including painting, cleaning, and taking over the running of the breakfast club.

His family said: “His life was as varied as his character, experiencing a very unusual boyhood that few still alive can equal.”

Mr Vautier was born on August 17, 1931, on the island of Jersey. By the time he was eight years old the Second World War had broken out, and just before he celebrated his ninth birthday Jersey became occupied by German soldiers on July 2, 1940.

The middle child of 11, with five younger and five older siblings, his memories of the war were readily related to the people he met.

Mr Vautier would tell his stories of running from tracer bullets along the beach, collecting seagull eggs from nests for his mother to make cakes - which entailed holding his brother’s legs while dangling him over a cliff edge - and his father hiding a pig’s carcass from German soldiers inside a fig tree.

He would also share details of when his father’s shop was bombed just seconds after they escaped in the family car, and being evicted at short notice from their house when the Germans commandeered it.

Later in life, after training as a blacksmith, Mr Vautier went into the building trade as a painter and decorator while also running a guest house with his first wife with whom he had two sons, Paul and Nicolas.

He married again in 1972 to local woman Bonita Riseborough, who he affectionately called Bon, at Hethersett Methodist Church, and they had two daughters together, Cathryn and Gabrielle.

The pair began married life in Jersey but moved to London, and a number of other locations, before retiring in Hethersett - the place he dubbed his “adopted village”.

Mr Vautier leaves behind his wife, four children, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

An inquest was held on October 9. He died on May 22.

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