Tributes paid to ‘inspirational’ Norfolk author and UEA teacher

Tributes were last night paid to a critically-acclaimed Norfolk author and former University of East Anglia graduate and teacher, who is believed to have drowned.

The body of Stephen Foster, 48, who lived at Thorpe Road, Norwich, was discovered at Trowse Meadow, Whitlingham Broad, having earlier been reported missing to police.

Mr Foster, a fiction and non-fiction writer, and father-of-one, taught creative writing at the UEA after having graduated from the university's creative writing MA course in 1998.

It was while studying at the UEA in the late 1990s that he met his partner of more than 11 years, novelist Trezza Azzopardi, who also teaches at the UEA.

Speaking last night, Ms Azzopardi, 49, said: 'Steve was a talented and passionate man who excelled at everything he did. Whether writing books, cooking for family and friends, playing sport, or supporting his beloved Stoke City Football Club, his approach was always committed and stylish; he did so many things so very well.

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'Steve made friends from all walks of life, but especially from the dog-walks of life - at Winterton, Whitlingham and the UEA – where he was a notable sight, if only because (as he liked to tell people) he chose his silver-grey dog to match his hair.

'He lived a full and vital life, and will be remembered with admiration for his courage, humour and sensitivity.

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'We have so many happy memories of him; he was loved by so many. He will be greatly missed by all of us.'

Her statement was issued in agreement with Mr Foster's son Jack, a former Norwich City College student who together with Archie Lamb, son of North Norfolk MP Norman, launched their own record label, Takeover Entertainment, in 2006, which Tinchy Stryder belongs to.

Mr Foster, who was born in Stoke on Trent and was to be a judge in this year's East Anglian Book Awards, supported by the EDP, moved down to London where he worked as a painter and decorator, before moving to Norwich where he began writing at the age of 32.

The writer, whose books include Walking Ollie and Along Came Dylan, about his beloved dogs, went to the Norwich School of Art and Design before going on to study creative Writing at the UEA where he later became a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow.

Andrew Cowan, senior lecturer in creative writing at the UEA, said: 'Students found him inspirational. And he was great fun to have around - a warm, generous, straightforward man who will be badly missed by everyone who knew him.'

An inquest into Mr Foster's death was opened and adjourned in Norwich yesterday and heard that cause of death was probably drowning, although further investigations will need to be carried out to establish the exact cause of death. Mr Foster was found at 7.50pm on Thursday.

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