Les Newsome: Norfolk promoter of cat shows and country and western

A promoter of championship cat shows across the eastern counties and also country and western concerts, Les Newsome, died suddenly at his Norfolk home, aged 80.

It was about 30 years ago that he and his wife, Audrey, were given official backing to stage pedigree cat shows. And these events rapidly became a great success as hundreds of top cats were entered at shows in Norwich and also King's Lynn.

His wife sold two Persian kittens to the First Lady of Country Music, Tammy Wynette, also best known for her best-seller, Stand by Your Man. The American singer songwriter had visited the Theatre Royal, Norwich, and bought a blue and a white kitten as a birthday present.

The husband-and-wife team staged the first cat show at Horsford village hall in April 1983. As they gained popularity, they moved to bigger venues including the Territorial Army Hall, in Aylsham Road, Nor-wich, and then Hellesdon High School.

They were founder members of the Eastern Counties Cat Society, which was affiliated to the ruling body, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, in 1986. He was vice-chairman of the ECCS for many years and had been proposed as chairman at the annual meeting later this month.

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The society's first championship show was at Norwich Sport Village in 1993. The next year, as it expanded again, it was held at Lynnsport Leisure Centre, King's Lynn, and in 1996 had attrracted more than 400 entires. It remained there until 2007 when it moved to Wood Green Animal Centre, Godmanchester, near Huntingdon.

They were heavily involved for many years with country and western, promoting concerts at Hellesdon and later at Carrow Road, which attracted leading artists from home and overseas.

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Born in Southsea, Hampshire, he joined the Royal Engineers, and later served in Cyprus. After leaving the army, as a reservist he was recalled to the colours for the Suez campaign in 1956.

On his return, he met Audrey, who lived at Wendling, near Dereham. She had been his sister's pen friend for years but had been encouraged to write to him. And after meeting for the first time at Southsea station, having been introduced by his younger sister, Rita, they were married just a few weeks later at Whitsun 1957.

They set up home in Norwich, where he had a variety of jobs including making surgical or remedial footwear and later as a driving instructor. He also worked for 14 years at Bux Boxes in Pulham Market.

He was involved in the management of Horsford village hall and lived in nearly Angela Road for many years.

He was married for 53 years and leaves a widow, Audrey, sister Rita and a nephew, Keith.

A funeral service has been held at St Faith's Crematorium.

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