Farewell to popular Sheringham amateur actor

Neil Batchelor

Neil Batchelor - Credit: Archant

Retired banker Neil Batchelor, who was also well-known in Sheringham for his performances on the stage and tennis court, has died aged 69.

Neil Batchelor with fellow Sheringham Players actors Mike Thame and Hilary Nelson in his am dram day

Neil Batchelor with fellow Sheringham Players actors Mike Thame and Hilary Nelson in his am dram days. - Credit: Archant

He was in banking all his working life from a teenage junior to a manager at his retirement in 1995.

That career for Stoke-born Mr Batchelor began at the National Provincial Bank at Audley, Staffordshire.

He was soon sent on a temporary transfer to the bank's Dover ferry terminal foreign exchange office and when the pound was devalued in 1967 banks across the country closed their doors for the day - but the ferry one remained open which resulted in the young official being inundated with press enquiries which he was instructed to fend off with a 'no comment'.

It was while at Dover that he met and wed Coral. They newlyweds moved to Ashford in Kent - but on their first New Year's Eve as a married couple in 1969 he had to stay at work until after midnight to help change over the bank signage in readiness for opening as the new National Westminster on January 1.

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Promotions resulted in moves to Bishop Stortford, High Wycombe and then Sheringham where he oversaw the conversion of a laundrette into a branch of NatWest of which he became the first manager and which ironically is to be closed next month. Further managerial roles subsequently saw him move to Norwich and then Hunstanton where he remained until his retirement in 1995.

Since retiring Mr Batchelor worked as a registrar for a number of years, and had also become a qualified toastmaster. He became a freemason and was initiated into the North Norfolk Lodge in June 1991 and was very proud to have been the Lodge's Millenium Master. He subsequently became the Lodge treasurer as well as being treasurer to the Sheringham Masonic Association and the North Norfolk branch of Macmillan Cancer Support.

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He was a keen member of the Sheringham Lobster Potties morris dance side, and the Sheringham Players. Mr Batchelor was also a regular 'dame' in the panto staged by the Little Theatre, where he was a board member for many years and treasurer.

He was also a familiar sight on the North Norfolk Railway playing the Fat Controller on Thomas The Tank Engine days, Father Christmas for the Santa Specials and as an actor on murder mystery evenings.

Mr Batchelor was also a keen and respected sportsman. In his younger days he played football and cricket, but tennis was his speciality and he played both at club and county level and for the NatWest and Norfolk County Veterans. He was also a squash player and member of the Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Club where he played until old injuries finally stopped him.

A private burial will be held on Thursday February 21, followed the same day by a service of thanksgiving held at St Peter's Parish Church, Sheringham, at 2pm.

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