Sister leads Fakenham’s poignant last farewell to Karl
- Credit: Ian Burt
They came to remember him on the steps where he often sat, under the sign of the town that adopted him.
Family and friends of Karl James held an open air service at the pile of flowers and tributes in a shop doorway beneath the Fakenham town sign, at the junction of Holt Road and Queens Road.
Homeless Mr James, who was 53, was found dead in the town's Bridge Street toilets, on the afternoon of Thursday, October 8.
His younger sister Lisa Willis, from Langor Bridge, near Fakenham, told mourners: 'I really appreciate all the flowers and tributes people have left for Karl. I know he touched a lot of people's hearts.'
Mrs Willis read a poem dedicated to Mr James which she wrote shortly after his death.
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'My darling brother why did you have to go,' she said. 'Still so young, and so much left to see and do. I love you so much my smashing big brother.
'Such a diamond geezer, so kind and so caring, no-one could guess the cross you were bearing.
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'You should see the masses of flowers, poems cards
candles and beer cans, all left where you sat. Fakenham folk loved you, and that's a fact.'
A friend at the service who would only give his name as Keith said: 'He was a really lovely bloke.
'He had places he could go and have something to eat or a wash. The community of Fakenham rallied round to help him.
'You couldn't keep a good man down. He wanted to do it his way.'
During the service Mrs Willis played some of her late brother's favourite songs, which had been played at his funeral in Thurmaston, Leics, on Monday, before he was cremated.
They included Wandrin' Star from the musical Paint Your Wagon, by Lee Marvin, the theme tune to Only Fools and Horses, House of Fun by Madness and Angels by Robbie Williams, who was his favourite artist.
A tribute left on the steps amid the flowers, cards and cans of cider, reads: 'Home is where family and friends laugh together.'
One passer-by, who paused briefly to read them, said: 'He was a nice chap, I used to talk to him. It's very sad.'
Mr James had been offered a place in a hostel in Cromer shortly before his death but declined it, saying he would rather stay on the streets of Fakenham because he had made so many friends there.
The father-of-three, who had lived rough in the town since February, became homeless some years ago after a relationship break-down.
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
The file has now been passed to the coroner and an inquest will be opened at a later date.