A town is mourning the death of a man who was the heart of the community for more than half a century.

Tinker Taylor died at the weekend and a special memorial service is being held in Downham Market’s St
Edmunds Church next Friday at 2.30pm.

Mr Taylor, 84, dedicated his life to working for the town and served as mayor three times as well as being a founder member of a host of organisations including the Civray twinning association, Ryston Runners and the festival committee.

There will be a private cremation at Mintlyn Crematorium on Thursday and the memorial service on Friday is for the wider community.

Mr Taylor also founded the Friends of Papworth fundraising group, was instrumental in setting up the Otters swimming
club and was very much involved with the Gateway Club, Hilgay Silver Band and in bringing St Winnold’s Fair back to the town.

He played football for the town, as well as Stow Bridge, Hilgay and Wimbotsham as a younger man. He was also a
member of the town’s heritage society and co-ordinator of the Parents Resource Association.

Downham has a street named after him and at the unveiling of the town sign this week the outgoing mayor Robin Pegg dedicated the new one to Mr Taylor who had helped look after the previous one.

His daughter, Pat Patterson, of King’s Lynn, said her father always had Downham at the centre of everything he did.

“He served as mayor three times and everyone knew him. He did so much for the town, including serving as a retained firefighter. He was awarded the Mayor’s Award for Voluntary Service in the West Norfolk Diamond Jubilee Awards last year,” she said. Mr Taylor was born in Barroway Drove and called Raymond but the name Tinker was used by everyone and he later changed it by deed poll.

He served with the Royal Norfolk Regiment having trained as a physical training instructor and was involved in the Berlin Airlifts. He also guarded Spandau Prison, where Nazi Rudolph Hess was incarcerated.

During the Second World War he worked at the Bexwell aerodrome and was later in the Home Guard in Downham.

He worked for the Post Office and started the town’s Labour Club as well as being a member of the former urban council and then the town council.

Town council member and longtime friend John Fox said Mr Taylor was ‘Mr Downham Market.’

“He knew everything there was to know about the town and if he didn’t, he knew who to ask and if he didn’t know that, then it wasn’t worth knowing. He will be sadly missed,” said Mr Fox.

Peter Duhig, a founder of Ryston Runners, said: “Tinker was a major player in the formation of the club. One of my enduring memories is of him on the Downham to Civray relay where he was irrepressible in telling people about what we were doing. He was so obviously proud.”

Mr Taylor’s wife Eileen died in 1995 and he leaves a daughter and two granddaughters. He served as town mayor in
1975/76, 1986/87 and finally in 1989/90.