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Farewell to George
The village turned out in force to say goodbye to one of its best loved residents.
George Beckford died on April 22nd, 2009, at the age of 89 and will be remembered as a leading light in village environmental issues.
A memorial service was held at St Remigius Church on Thursday, April 30th with members of the Beckford family paying tribute to a caring father and grandfather in song and poetry.
The service was led by The Rev Christopher Mallett who described George as "a private family man who was always approachable and a man with great spiritual attributes.
"George was a communicant member of this church and did a tremendous amount of work in the local community including a lengthy spell on the parish council of which he was chairman for eight years."
Rev Mallett also spoke of his chairmanship of Hethersett Society and his contribution to the Book of Hethersett, published a number of years ago.
"George was a founder member of the Hethersett Environmental Action Group and also wrote a tremendous amount of poetry. He also campaigned to see justice for the community on planning issues. His contribution to our community will be missed but not forgotten," he said.
A tribute to George was given by his son Howard who described his father as "a very straight forward person who was highly motivated and objective and who respected high standards."
"Dad was born in Tottenham just after the First World War and his family was always very important to him. He had four siblings whom he loved greatly. He was married for over 50 years and very proud of his three children and seven grandchildren and always delighted in their successes in music and sport.
"At Christmas three generations of the family would come together. Christmas 2008 was happy but poignant because he knew that it would be his last.
""Dad had a passion and commitment for numerous causes and his interests were numerous and varied including Italian Opera, dancing, camping, wildlife, bird watching, ecology, photography, gardening and travelling. He truly was a Renaissance Man in Norfolk. He had a great commitment to his life in Hethersett and Norfolk. He was a born leader and motivator and a good administrator. His hard work, motivation and kindness inspired many. He planted seeds not only in gardens but in people's hearts."
The service was a real family affair with granddaughter Meike singing "When I am Laid in Earth" from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and being accompanied by grandson Stefan Beckford for Leonard Cohen's "Alleluia". The processional music was composed and played by Till Beckford and daughter Diane Cummins read two of George's poems - the first written to his mother in 1944 and the second a poem of farewell written shortly before he died. Grandson Matthew Cummins read his own original tribute written in the style of a George Beckford poem. The church choir sang John Rutter's setting to All Things Bright and Beautiful.
The service was followed by the committal at Earlham Crematorium.