Former Norwich cinema organist and Holt car craftsman Earle Kirby dies aged 91.

Earle Kirby, a pre-war cinema organist in Norwich and a long-standing craftsman and well-known figure in his home town of Holt, has died aged 91.

A dedicated musician who, in retirement, taught scores of Norfolk children and adults, he was renowned for his gentle humour and love of Norfolk and its dialect.

Mr Kirby's cinema music career, which started at the Carlton on All Saints' Green, Norwich (later renamed the Gaumont), was cut short by the onset of war in 1939, and he served for five years with a Royal Artillery front line gun unit in North Africa and Italy.

By 1946 the cinema organ era was over, but he kept playing, co-founding a dance band, giving concerts to support local causes, playing the piano in The Feathers Hotel and writing music.

His other great love was designing, building and flying model aircraft and he was one of the first members of the North Norfolk Aeromodellers.


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Mr Kirby was a sign-writer and a master coach-painter, starting the Holt Cellulose Company on the Cley Road in the late 1940s. Later he ran car repair workshops at Eldsen's Garage and the North Norfolk Garage.

Before moving two years ago to Sun Court Nursing Home in Sheringham he lived in Grove Close, Grove Lane, Holt, with his late wife, Eve, the former town correspondent for the North Norfolk News.

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His son Martin, the former Eastern Daily Press deputy editor who is now an olive farmer, author and columnist in Spain, said: 'Dad was a light, always quick to smile, and so appreciated by everyone who knew him. He coped with the many challenges of recent years with enormous dignity and typical gentleness, and was, undoubtedly, a Holt gentleman through and through.'

The funeral service will be at St Andrew's Church, Holt, at noon on Thursday April 5.

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