Tributes to 'brilliant man' devoted to helping Norwich homeless

Stuart Turner of Aspect Housing.

Tributes have been paid to Stuart Turner of Aspect Housing Norwich who has died. - Credit: Denise Bradley

A hotel manager who worked tirelessly to help the homeless in Norwich has died just hours after he was out feeding people on the street.

Stuart Turner, 56, general manager of the Aspect Housing hotel, formerly the low cost NR2 venue, in Norwich's Earlham Road, helped provide a sanctuary at the venue for 12 homeless people on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year.

He had been out feeding the homeless just hours before he died at the hotel on April 19, just days before his 57th birthday.

A statement released by Aspect Housing, which confirmed Mr Turner's death, said he had been instrumental in "sharing his vision that no person should be homeless or vulnerable in Norwich".

It added: "For his last act, on Sunday April 18 Stuart spent his time feeding the homeless as part of Anon Street Team, a truly selfless lasting act for Norwich, from a Norfolk man."

Stuart Turner who helped homeless people in Norwich.

Stuart Turner who helped homeless people in Norwich. - Credit: submitted

Josh Sandell, a team leader at Aspect Housing Norwich, said: "I was originally homeless at 17 and joined Aspect as Team Leader at age 20. 

"Stuart was my mentor, teaching me everything he'd learnt about working with people after 30 years on cruise ships. Stuart was a brilliant man, he was always so kind and took all the time in the world to help those around him and whoever needed it.

"I met Stuart in November 2020 when we started working together, and in such a short amount of time it felt like we had known each other for years with all that we went through, he had shown me a better way to live life, to always be happy no matter what and to always give second chances.

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"Stuart’s death has made me realise to never take life for granted and to live life to the fullest just like he did."

Nicila Collier, from the Anon Street Team - a self-funded volunteer organisation which helps feed and cloth the homeless in Norwich, said: "We first came across Stuart when EDP ran a story of Aspect offering rooms and food for Xmas 2020 to anyone in need.

"I reached out to Stuart and offered him the opportunity of attending Anons Xmas Meal, so he could meet some of those people who would benefit from the kind offer.  

"He jumped at the chance and we quickly realised we were kindred spirits, wanting to help anyone we came into contact with. 

In early 2021, Stuart and his ensemble began joining Anon every Sunday, cooking hot meals and sometimes hot desserts.  

"He was a great networker and sometimes the food would come from a local restaurant or take out that he had charmed into assisting a good cause. He was larger than life.

"We didn’t know him for very long but he was out there, making a difference every day and that loss will be felt by many.  Heartfelt condolences to his family, many friends and Aspect family."

Mr Turner, who lost his job on cruise ships earlier last year had some "really dark days" but wanted to provide some much-needed positivity to those in need at the end of an already difficult year, following the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year, he had talked about wanting to do even more to help the homeless in Norwich.

Christine Miles, a childhood friend of Mr Turner's from Fakenham, described him as "charismatic" with a "wicked sense of humour" adding that he "wanted to make a difference".

She has set up a Go Fund Me page in tribute to Mr Turner in order to give him "the most fitting (and totes fabulous) send-off".

The page has so far raised more than £1,700 of its £3,000 target but anyone wanting to contribute by logging onto https://www.gofundme.com/f/raising-funds-for-stuart-john-turners-funeral?utm_campaign=p_cp_url&utm_medium=os&utm_source=customer

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