Tributes have been paid to a much respected and loved community figure who was made MBE for his tireless work in his village.
Bridgham stalwart David O’Neale, who died last Thursday, aged 59, had been battling motor neurone disease for the last two years.
He was married to Hilary and had three sons Edward, Will and Adam.
In a statement, his family paid tribute. They said: “As the many cakes, flowers and cards that have arrived in the last few days have shown, David was much respected and loved throughout the community and beyond.
“But to us he was a husband and father, and this is the David that we are mourning and shall miss so much.”
The family moved to Bridgham in 1988 and he created and produced many memorable events for the village and often on an enormous scale. This includes Viking reenactments and more recently the village enjoyed four days of celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Mr O’Neale has written several books on local history including the Bridgham book to celebrate the Millennium, Verses From a Norfolk Squire, Lest We Forget – Bridgham and Roudham in the Great War, Breckland Portraits – Recollections of a Norfolk Parson by Hugh Harper, Harling Memories and soon to be published is a booklet he only recently finished on Tinker Joe of Hockham.
Mr O’Neale was a teacher of music, working in schools locally including as head of performing arts at Charles Burrell High School in Thetford and head of music at Hethersett High School. He then worked at Norfolk Music Service which involved him working in many schools across the county from 2001.
He was the conductor of the Bridgham and Harling Band as well as the Thetford Music Project which is still running and currently has 100 young people after school learning to play.
He also took part in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony as an actor, then aged 57.
He was made MBE last summer for his “tireless work” in the Bridgham community.
Mike Brown, of Bridgham, said: “David was a remarkable individual with enormous intelligence, authorship ability and musical genius which was only surpassed by his commitment to community in the village of Bridgham and the locality generally.”
A family man, he was married to Hilary for 35 years.