A fine send off for Palgrave’s Percy O’Connor — the ‘King of the Steppers’

Percy O'Connor, of Palgrave, who died in July aged 70. ANL-151208-163243001

Percy O'Connor, of Palgrave, who died in July aged 70. ANL-151208-163243001

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Hundreds of people paid their respects to the well-known Palgrave step dancer Percy O’Connor, who died last month aged 70.

Known by many as the ‘King of the Steppers’, a horse and cart as well as colourful vehicles with floral displays led a procession through Diss and Palgrave last Thursday before his funeral at St Mary’s Church.

Wife Doreen said letters and cards of sympathy which have so far totalled more than 100 were still arriving at the family home for Mr O’Connor, who was born in Ramsey, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, in 1944.

Working on farms and land, after he got married, he began as a self-employed landscape gardener.

After a number of moves, his family settled in Rickinghall, and then moved to Palgrave. He met his future wife in the White Horse in South Lopham in the early 1960s, and they married at Eye Register Office in 1979.

“He was a good husband and a good father,” said Mrs O’Connor. “And he would do anything for anybody. It wouldn’t matter what is was or what time it was. He was loving and caring.

“He was well-respected. He was a great man. He is a legend and he will be missed.”

He started dancing from a young age, and got more into step dancing after being married. Entering and winning numerous events, he and his wife also took part in stage plays across East Anglia.

Mrs O’Connor explained many of his interests in his life contributed to the theme of his funeral.

His own melodeon more than 100 years old was played as he was buried, while people were encouraged to wear bright colours.

“We knew that he loved horses, and we knew that if we could afford it we had to do it, so we had the horse and cart,” she said.

“He said ‘when anything happens to me, I want everyone to sing and dance and enjoy themselves, and I want bright hymns’.”

Mrs O’Connor also placed on record her thanks to all those that attended the funeral, district nurses, Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, St Elizabeth Hospice, and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.