'Towering figure and perfect gentleman' - Latest tributes to Sir Timothy

Sir Timothy Colman and Sir Richard Jewson at Norwich Castle.Photo: Andy DarnellCopy: Laura Devli

Sir Timothy Colman and Sir Richard Jewson at Norwich Castle. - Credit: Archant

A university’s vice-chancellor has paid tribute to Sir Timothy Colman following his “instrumental” involvement in its beginnings. 

Sir Timothy died on Thursday September 9, surrounded by his family, at his home at Bixley Manor, near Norwich, at the age of 91. 

Part of the Colman's Mustard dynasty, he was a huge champion for Norfolk and its people. He also earned himself a place in the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) history books. 

The new Colman House student residences at the University of East Anglia, opened by Sir Timothy Colm

Sir Timothy Colman played a key role in the foundation of the University of East Anglia. Here he is pictured opening the Colman House student residences, watched by Prof David Eastwood, vice chancellor of UEA. - Credit: Archant © 2004

As chairman of the fundraising committee, Sir Timothy was instrumental in the founding of the university in 1963. He was UEA treasurer from 1970 to 1973, chairman of council from 1973 to 1985 and pro-chancellor from 1986 to 2000. In 1973, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law. 

In 2004, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the UEA. This rare honour was conferred at a ceremony in recognition of his lasting impact. 

Staff at the UEA said they were “deeply saddened” to hear of his death. 

Vice-chancellor Prof David Richardson said: “Sir Timothy had a lasting impact on the life and work of the university, and he will be sorely missed.  

“He was a true friend of the university. His personal warmth, humility and grace has had a direct impact on the lives of many in our community.” 

Sir Timothy donated to the university through The Timothy Colman Charitable Trust and also through personal donations in support of Prostate Cancer Research, Quadram Institute and Covid-19 Research and the Sainsbury Centre.  

Sir Timothy Colman is presented with a scroll to mark his honorary freedom of the City by the Lord M

Sir Timothy Colman is presented with a scroll to mark his honorary freedom of the City by the Lord Mayor of Norwich. - Credit: Archant © 2004

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Acting director Ghislaine Wood added: “Sir Timothy Colman was a close friend and supporter of the Sainsbury Centre from its very foundation in the 1970s.  

“He played an enormously important role in its formation and continued to support the programme and activities throughout the centre’s almost 45-year history. His lifelong belief that the arts should be for everyone was at the heart of his philanthropy and the centre benefitted from his tremendous commitment to this principle.  

“Most recently he was delighted with the progress of the Sculpture Park and generously supported the addition of new works to the campus. His last visit, last year, was for a tour of the Sculpture Park where he was focused on its future development.  

“He will be hugely missed. Our thoughts and best wishes go to his family and loved ones at this time.”  


Sir Timothy Colman pictured in 1958, when he was director of the Norfolk News Company, now Archant. - Credit: Archant

The university’s flag at the UEA will also be lowered next week as a mark of respect, and on the day of Sir Timothy’s funeral, which is yet to be announced. 

Chairman of Friends of the Norwich Museums (FONM), Charles Bingham-Newland, described Sir Timothy as a “towering figure” in the life of the city and Norfolk for more than 50 years. 

“He served as president of the FONM for well over quarter of a century, for the period during which he was Lord-Lieutenant,” he said. 

“Sir Timothy was a great supporter of the arts in Norfolk and was a terrific ambassador for the work of the museums in Norwich, in particular the Castle Museum where his family gave an outstanding collection of Norwich School paintings to the people of Norwich. 

“The Colman Gallery at Norwich Castle is testament to the munificence of the Colman family and to Norfolk.” 

The Queen arrives at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital .
Pictured with Sir Timothy Colman.

The Queen with Sir Timothy Colman in 2004. - Credit: EDP / Archant © 2004

Farmer and broadcaster David Richardson previously worked with Sir Timothy. He said: “I worked with him for many years at the Royal Norfolk Show and Archant. 

“He was a consummate chairman, always prepared - he was knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects and a perfect gentleman. I and Norfolk will miss him.” 

And Chris Guest, the managing director of LS Plant Breeding Ltd, added: “Very sad news indeed, stood in the shooting line a couple of times with him a true gent.”  

The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) posted a statement following the news. 

He served as president in 1982 when the Royal Norfolk Show attendance was 98,002. He was also president for the second time when the association celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1997. 

Relaxing at his home at Bixley Manor near Norwich, Sir Timothy Colman who is retiring from the post

Sir Timothy Colman. - Credit: EDP / Archant 2003

He was chairman of the RNAA’s council for 12 years from 1985 and led the initiative to broaden support for the association including the launch of the eve-of-show annual ball, members’ visits and publication of the Mardler. 

In 1998, he funded an annual prize to an individual for making an outstanding contribution to food, farming and the countryside. The first Sir Timothy Colman Award was presented in 1999 to Swannington farmer Janet Mutimer. 

At the 1998 annual meeting, Lord Edward Fitzroy, who gave a vote of thanks to the retiring president said that Sir Timothy had been an “excellent president". With Lady Mary, they had attended every event connected with the show.

“Everyone would remember their departure in a horse-drawn carriage in the rain,” he said. 

In reply, Sir Timothy said that he had a deep appreciation and regard for the association and everyone connected with it.

"There was no greater honour in this county than to be elected president of the association," he said.

Mark Nicholas, managing director of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), said: “All members of the RNAA are deeply saddened by the death of Sir Timothy Colman. 

“Sir Timothy and his family have been at the heart and soul of the RNAA and agricultural community for decades. We celebrate Sir Timothy’s enormous contribution to our county life.” 

Lady Mary Colman sits on a white chair with her husband, Sir Timothy Colman, stood behind her.

Lady Mary with her husband, Sir Timothy Colman - Credit: The Colman Family

Sir Timothy's wife Lady Mary died, aged 88, at the start of the year. As well as their five children, Sir Timothy leaves 10 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. 

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