Tony gets to see his dying wish fufilled

A VILLAGE stalwart lost his battle to cancer just hours after his dying wish of a charity concert in aid of the nurses who cared for him finished.

Tony Hepworth, 73, a well known and popular figurehead of Lavenham, was prevented from being at the special performance he went to pains to organise for the Macmillan nurses due to his ill health.

But he would have passed away content that his efforts - which included finding and persuading a talented singer from Lavenham in Canada to perform in the Suffolk village - finally came to fruition.

The secretary of the Lavenham Merchants’ Guild, author of a book on Lavenham and former district councillor, died on February 20 - the morning after the concert, which raised more than �2,000.

Lynn Gurling, chairman of Lavenham Parish Council, said: “It was absolutely fantastic and it was such a wonderful tribute to him. The way Tony had found this lovely lady from Lavenham, Manitoba, Canada was wonderful.

“A lot of the songs she sang really brought things home - tears were rolling down my face. People were very moved and it was very well attended.”

Lynda Dobbin-Turner, a Canadian folk singer, was only able to make the trip to fulfil Mr Hepworth’s dying wish after she won a lottery prize which amazingly just covered the price of her air fare. Mr Hepworth had come across her whilst researching the village for his 2008 book ‘A portrait of Lavenham, Suffolk’s man-made wonder in the 21st Century’. As he could not attend she paid a special visit to his home to give him his own bedside concert.

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The Lavenham Merchants’ Guild has released its own statement about Mr Hepworth, saying: “The Lavenham Merchants’ Guild wish to thank Tony for his tremendous amount of support and actions that he has carried out for the village; to thank him for his persuasive character that helped things move forward; to thank him for his humour and his many Naval officer stories from all over the world and finally to thank him for being a friend.”

A memorial service to Mr Hepworth will be taking place at 3pm on March 12 at Lavenham church.