'Enormous contribution' - Norfolk's love for Sir Timothy Colman

Sir Timothy Colman <correct> looking out over Whitlingham Great Broad
Photo: Bill Smith
Copy: Jon

Sir Timothy Colman looking out over Whitlingham Broad. - Credit: Archant © 2007

Tributes to one of Norfolk’s sons, Sir Timothy Colman, have been paid following his death at the age of 91. 

A former Royal Navy officer, Sir Timothy, who was also part of the Colman's Mustard dynasty, was involved in a number of different organisations and roles across the county.

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

Mark Nicholas

Mark Nicholas - Credit: Danielle Booden

"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." 

In 1957, Sir Timothy became a director of Eastern Counties Newspapers (now Archant), the publishers of the Eastern Daily Press, becoming chair from 1969 to 96. 

Lorna Willis, chief executive officer of Archant, of whom Sir Timothy was a director of for 27 years when it was previously Eastern Counties Newspapers, said: "Sir Timothy contributed so much to Norfolk during his distinguished life and will be so sorely missed. So much in the county that we probably take for granted only came about because of his passion and dedication to make things happen.

"One of his many lasting legacies will be the continued success of our newspapers and websites, which is only possible because of the decades of service provided by both he and his family."

Sir Timothy's grandfather Russell, a Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, was instrumental in starting the newspaper group, which publishes the EDP, Norwich Evening News and weekly titles.

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

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Norwich Theatre Royal said it was "incredibly saddened" to hear of the news.

In a statement, it said: "Sir Timothy and the Colman family have been important supporters of the Theatre Royal and Playhouse for a long time and he was a passionate advocate and champion of the arts here in our county of Norfolk.

"Our thoughts and best wishes go to his family and loved ones at this time."

And True's Yard Fisherfolk Museum, in King's Lynn, where Sir Timothy was patron, said: "We are saddened to learn today of the passing of our patron Sir Timothy Colman. A significant friend and supporter of the North End Trust for over 25 years he will be greatly missed."

Sir Timothy was also patron or president of a large number of organisations including the Norfolk and Norwich Festival (NNF), the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, the Friends of Norwich Museums, Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT), Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Society, the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, English Countryside Commission, Nature Conservancy Council and many more. 

Chair of NWT Alice Liddle said: "Sir Timothy had a genuine passion for nature and as a result always wanted to understand what was happening with the Trust and its impact on wildlife in Norfolk.

"As chairman in the 1950s and then vice patron from the 1960s onwards, he presided over the Trust’s growth from a small scale organisation in the 1960s, when it had approximately 800 members, to the mass membership organisation as it is now with 36,000 members.

"He showed a lively interest in the growth of the Trust's land holdings for the purpose of conservation, including the establishment at his encouragement of the Trust's first urban nature reserve, Thorpe Marshes.

"He was a friend to the Trust as well as our vice patron and will be a great loss to us given his commitment to our work, staff and volunteers over so many years."

Daniel Brine, chief executive of the NNF, added: "It is a terribly sad day for everyone associated with the festival.

"Sir Timothy has been involved with the festival for over 30 years, on the board of trustees and latterly as a patron. He was always a tremendous champion of our work and passionate about bringing the arts to everybody in Norfolk, through our community, schools and free outdoor programmes."

The Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club, where he served as Club Admiral between 1978 and 1995, said: "As a young man, Timothy Colman emerged as a talented helm and owned a series of Dragons named Salar and owned in partnership with his relation and Olympic Gold Medallist, Christopher Boardman. But for a broken genoa halyard he would have won the Edinburgh Cup, the national championship for the class. 

"Norfolk yachting has lost a large piece out of the jigsaw. A well-informed, scrupulously decent man, with a quite remarkable talent for remembering everyone's name."

And Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council said: “Sir Timothy Colman was a true gentleman and a fine representative of one of Norfolk’s most famous families. He was a real champion for the county, working diligently to serve Norfolk and its people throughout his life including his long term as HM Lord-Lieutenant.”

Sir Timothy was also a former Justice of the Peace and chairman of the bench, chairman of the UEA Council and Pro-Chancellor, instrumental in the creation of the Sainsbury Centre, a former High Sheriff, and served as Lord-Lieutenant from 1978 to 2004. 

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

In 2007, Sir Timothy saw his idea to create a new broad at Whitlingham, on the edge of Norwich, become reality.

Born in Norfolk on September 19, 1929, Sir Timothy was the great-grandson of Jeremiah James Colman - the creator of Colman's Mustard. 

Reception at Blickling Hall for Sir Timothy Colman.
Sir Timothy with lady Mary
Photo: Nick Butcher

Lady Mary Colman, with her husband, Sir Timothy Colman. - Credit: Archant

Colman family

Sir Timothy and Lady Mary, with children Sarah, Emma, Matthew, Sabrina and James. - Credit: Colman Family

The Lady Dannatt MBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, penned this tribute to Sir Timothy Colman

Sir Timothy Colman. So deeply loved, and without question, one of Norfolk’s very own. Beyond that, indisputably, one of our absolute and very best.

Thousands of words will be written about Sir Timothy’s life, but few, perhaps, from the perspective of one who has known him from literally as early as she could remember.

As a child I partied at Bixley Manor. I climbed the trees, ate banana and jelly sandwiches around the nursery table, and revelled in this vibrant, safe and fun-filled family home.

Lady Dannatt MBE

Lady Dannatt MBE - Credit: Portrait by Michael Waller-Bridge

It was always tinged with a degree of permitted naughtiness. Sir Timothy’s reknowned twinkle, combined with Lady Mary’s attitude of ‘laissez faire’ were legendary.

Perhaps less immediately obvious, although completely clear to us children, was not only their passion for each other: but also their undisguised and complete devotion to, and pride in, each of their five children - the three sisters in those early days, followed by their two younger brothers later on. A golden childhood in golden years.

This was an age when it wasn’t necessarily fashionable to be proud of your offspring; or not to say so anyway - at least not in the way it is today.

Sir Timmy and Lady Mary couldn’t care a jot about that. The infectious joy and pride they both took in their young and in extended family life, not only permeated every pore of their beings, but bubbled over into each and every facet of life beyond.

Norfolk was the foremost beneficiary of this infectious kindness, inclusivity, energy, optimism and sheer joy of living. And how fortunate, as a county, were we.

Sir Timothy personified all the great qualities of a statesman: wisdom, sportsmanship, loyalty, humour, humility and above all, integrity. He ‘encouraged me and gave me direction’ ‘changed my whole way of my thinking’ and ‘challenged me to do different, but not just that, he always kept in touch …’ are familiar refrains across the board.

Thank you Sir Timothy for that, and for so much more as well. Individual lives, changed for the better and for the richer in every way, are one of the great and many ongoing legacies you bequeathed not only the county; but to your country as a whole.

Sir Richard Jewson, who succeeded Sir Timothy as Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, wrote to me this morning saying: ‘He was such a good friend, and he taught me a great deal.’ I echo those words entirely. As I know, do literally hundreds of others across this glorious county of ours.

Thank you, Sir Timothy, from each and every one of us. Norfolk owes you a profound and heartfelt debt of gratitude for your outstanding life of Service. May you rest in peace, and rise in glory. You surely and absolutely deserve nothing less.

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