Warm tributes to Fakenham’s Mark Baldwin

Mark Baldwin, pictured after winning the Fakenham mayor's community volunteer award. Picture: Ian Bu

Mark Baldwin, pictured after winning the Fakenham mayor's community volunteer award. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Warm tributes have been paid to a talented musician, humble volunteer and popular community hero with a passion for Fakenham who has died at the age of 41.

Mark Baldwin, who was well-known for his work with Kick Start Fakenham, died at his Fakenham home last Thursday.

The cause of death is not yet known.

Mr Baldwin was the chairman of Kick Start Fakenham, a voluntary group which organises events including the Fakenham Christmas lights switch-on, the Fakenham Fair and the Fakenham Beer Festival.

He stepped down from the role a year ago but was still heavily involved with the group.

Mr Baldwin received the Fakenham Mayor’s Community Volunteer Award last year.

Friend Andy McBride said: “I only knew Mark for about five years but we had so much in common, we became like brothers. We got to know each other when Mark resurrected the Fakenham Fair.

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“He wanted someone to play the old folk song Fakenham Fair at the event and we ended up going on stage to play it together. From that day, we developed the most incredible friendship.

“Mark had an amazing knowledge of music and he was known through west and north Norfolk as a fantastic guitarist. He was a great songwriter too.

“He had a great appreciation of nature and had recently started his own gardening business.

“Everything was going well for him. He loved being in control of his own destiny and he had the most amazing girlfriend.

“I’m a gardener myself and we worked together.

“My fondest memories are of when we worked in Burnham Norton. We worked on gardens at each end of the village and met in the middle at what we called the old man’s bench at lunch time each day where we would sit and put the world to rights.

“We would gossip about everyone and everything, share anecdotes and have a real giggle. Some days we’d be there for two hours and forget we had to go back to work.

“Mark was a real gentleman and it was a true privilege for me to share these moments with him.”

Another friend, Andrew Bloomfield, said: “Mark was my apprentice at Lancaster Press in Fakenham in the late 1980s.

“We both liked rock music and British comedy and he was really good at impressions. He really knew how to make people laugh.

“He encouraged me to join a band with him.”

Discussions will be had about holding a tribute concert for Mr Baldwin next year.

Mr Bloomfield said: “I’d be delighted to get involved. He was a very talented musician, but very humble with it as well.”

Kick Start Fakenham chairman, Adrian Vertigan, said: “Mark was passionate about Fakenham and he would try to do anything he could for the town.

“He just put his heart into everything. Mark wouldn’t just moan about things he was unhappy about. He would always try to do something about them.

“He would do everything he could to make Fakenham better. He never looked for recognition and it is a credit to Mark that many people in Fakenham knew of the events Mark did but didn’t know Mark himself.”

Mr Vertigan added: “This is a huge loss. We will make sure the Fakenham Christmas lights are a big success this year, as that’s what Mark would have wanted.”

Tracey Bunting said: “I got to know Mark early last year while he was chairman of Kick Start Fakenham, and he came on board with yet another local community project with myself, my cousin and other friends, called Rock 4 Jasmine - an event to raise funds and awareness for my cousin’s little girl who suffers with an incurable disease called JDM.

“Mark was such a great help to enable us to put on our first live charity music event in August 2013. He shared his knowledge and worked tirelessly to support us on the day.

“He was the type of person who would wear his heart on his sleeve, and you felt after one conversation that you had known him all your life.

“He cared far too much about things he couldn’t have any control over, but he also showed the same compassion for his friends, family and his local community.

“He would often message to ask how I was....even though his time must have been very scarce. He will be greatly missed.”