Tributes paid to much-loved Norwich angler

Friends paid tribute to a Norwich shop owner and much-loved angler who died suddenly on Saturday doing what he loved.

Tributes have been paid to a much-loved angler who collapsed and died during a weekend fishing match.

Sixty-four-year-old Keith Ford, from Sprowston, collapsed on the banks of the River Yare during an event at the Beauchamp Arms on Saturday.

Close friends of Mr Ford spoke of their shock at the sudden death of a popular man, described as jovial and generous, who had done so much to ensure both locals and visitors could fish on the River Yare.

They said their condolences were with his wife Pam and his grown-up children.

Friend and associate match organiser Andy Wilson-Sutter, said he had first met Mr Ford when he was fishing on the River Yare 25 years ago.

'He showed me how to fish the River Yare. The River Yare was his love and all he wanted to do was to make sure people could fish it and make it available to as many people as possible.'

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Mr Ford was responsible for negotiating with the landowner between Rockland Dyke and Langley to open that part of the River Yare to both locals and visitors.

Mr Wilson-Sutter added: 'It is a huge shock. He will be missed not only for what he did for angling, but his character and the way he ran matche.

'He was very open and very fair. He was always thinking of the anglers before he thought of himself.

'It will be a really sad loss for the fishing community. We are committed to continuing his work on the River Yare and making sure it is available to as many people as possible

'Our thoughts are with Pam and his family at this very sad time.'

Mr Ford, who lived on Parana Road, ran a shop in the Golden Triangle area of Norwich.

He ran a league angling event on the River Yare for 20 years.

He was said to have been proud of the huge growth in attendance and there were 80 anglers at the event on Saturday.

'He was always rushing around but he always found time for everybody,' added Mr Wilson-Sutter. 'That's the sort of man he was. If somebody hadn't gone fishing before, he would sit with them and show them the river.'

He had planned a two-day charity match for his 65th birthday, which friends have pledged to still to do in his memory.

Close friend and chairman of the Norwich and District Anglers Tony Gibbons said: 'It is just going to be a terrible loss. He was 64 and he was coming up to this 65th birthday in August.

'We have talked about fishing for 40 years. He was very well known in Norfolk and away. He was a very popular person. He was just jovial. He liked a joke. He liked to take the mickey and he was a marvellous family man. I just think it is a terrible loss to the area.'

As well as running a shop, Mr Ford was also a well known painter and decorator and would paint local schools.

Archant angling correspondent Roy Webster said that anglers had held Mr Ford in great esteem.

'He performed a great service for local and visiting anglers alike', he said.

He said that Mr Ford had a 'sheer devotion to the sport'.

The contact for matches is Andy Wilson-Sutter on 01502 531776 or 07775 788926.

Would you like to pay tribute to Mr Ford? Call reporter Annabelle Dickson on 01603 772426 or email annabelle.dickson@archant.co.uk

Nigel Scarle, said: 'I would like to pay my respects on the sad loss of Mr Ford, only knew him for a few years, fishing the open match on the Yare at the start of the season and some good tips along the way, a great loss.'

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