Giovanni Vanzino

Dedicated community stalwart Giovanni Vanzino died this week at the age of 35 after a four-year battle with heart disease.

Dedicated community stalwart Giovanni Vanzino died this week at the age of 35 after a four-year battle with heart disease.

Well known around North Norfolk, especially his home town of Cromer, Mr Vanzino - known simply as Gio to friends and family - was closely involved with the town lifeboat, was a talented drummer, keen rugby fan and devoted family man.

Many people who did not know him will have known the Cromer club which shared his name. Giovanni's, a popular private members club on New Street, is owned by his mother.

Yesterday Mr Vanzino's widow Tracy paid tribute to her late husband, describing him as "full of life, very giving and a real practical joker".

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"He was many things to many people, he had a strong sense of community and of family," she said.

"He always wanted to be involved, to help people out and get things done.

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"So many people knew and loved him, and they all have a Gio story to tell from one exploit or another."

Mr Vanzino was one of a very small number of people to have served on both the Cromer and Sheringham lifeboat crews over the years.

He first got involved with Cromer lifeboat in his mid teens and latterly took the role of deputy launching authority. In fact he is thought to have been one of the youngest people to have held this post.

During his time with the lifeboat he was awarded a vellum service certificate, along with several other crew members, for his part in the 1998 rescue of three people from the yacht Tange.

Mr Vanzino was also known for his high standard of drumming and had stints with bands Cloud Nine and the Ugly Bug Band. He was also one of the founder members of the Cromer Smugglers.

Sporting interests saw him play rugby for Holt RFC in his younger days and more recently get involved with the same club at youth committee level through his son.

And he also took on the role of a tenant representative for the North Norfolk Housing Trust.

Before he was diagnosed with heart disease, Mr Vanzino worked as a bricklayer.

He leaves a nine-year-old son Harry, mother Myra Bennett, father John Vanzino, sisters Colleen Marshall and Maria Vanzino and several nieces and nephews.

Family members have paid a special tribute to the work of the staff at the Kilverstone Ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the specialist cardiology unit where he received much of his treatment.

The funeral at Cromer Parish Church will be held on Wednesday at 2.30pm, followed by a committal at Cromer cemetery. This will be followed by a party at Giovanni's, where people can write down their stories about Gio and post them in a special 'memory box' for Harry.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Kilverstone Ward and the British Heart Foundation should make cheques out to the CDFS Donation Account and send them to Cromer and District Funeral Service, 32 West Street, Cromer.

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