Farewell to one of town’s leading lights

Just Regional
Jan 11, 2023 3 mins read

It is with great sadness that we report Keith Elphick passed away in hospital surrounded by his family on Sunday 18th December, aged 86, after a short illness.

He moved to Aylsham on appointment as Headmaster of Aylsham Middle School in 1979 and remained in post until 1995. During this period the school flourished under his inspiring leadership and boundless enthusiasm.

At Christmas time staff remember him getting the children of each class to produce mock painted glass motifs for the windows and a display on a large sheet of backing paper, which was then displayed around the school.

The staff also decorated a long corridor with lights and festive displays overnight so that the next day the children arrived to Christmas.

He also loved arranging plays, dances, and outings. Parents and their children especially remember school activity holidays and how enjoyable they were.

Keith was well remembered for playing Fagin in Oliver, one of the many school plays he loved to perform in, and of course, as a father, and being born on Christmas Day he naturally played the role of Father Christmas. In this role, on many occasions he had to be reminded that the Santa Special at Bure Valley Railway was waiting to transport him to his next destination.

One time, his granddaughter almost gave the game away when after hearing him say “Ho, Ho, Ho,” said that was not Father Christmas, its Grandad and a swift departure was needed. He also played the fat controller at the BVR during the summer months.

After “retirement” from education, Keith maintained contact with the high school as an exam invigilator, and also joined the Aylsham Christmas Lights Committee where he was elected as Chairman.

Once again, his talents were obvious. With his endearing character and gentle powers of persuasion, local businesses, committees, and organisations willingly gave produce, electricity and donations. Along with support from Aylsham Town Council and his ability to organise, raffles, dances, and quizzes etc, this enabled Aylsham Christmas Lights to be maintained, modernised, and enhanced each year and new decorations bought for the Town Hall.

Keith’s love of dancing and music took him to Blackpool to see Strictly Come Dancing and more recently to enjoy the Pasadena Roof Orchestra at Eastbourne with his son Richard. Once again, his enthusiasm became obvious during the many barn dances he and the committee arranged. As principal “conductor” and “caller” he always enjoyed gently correcting those who did not know left from right or clockwise from anti-clockwise.

Keith always gave generously of his time, providing transport to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, both for friends and relations and loved being a taxi service for his grandchildren.

He certainly made a difference to many lives and will be sadly missed by his wife Enid, her son and daughter, his four sons and their mother Pat, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Keith leaves behind fond memories, many of which will remain very personal.

A service to celebrate Keith’s life will be held at St. Michael and All Angel’s Church, Aylsham, on Friday, January 20 at 12.30pm.

Family flowers only, please, however donations to support cancer Research UK and British Heart Foundation (with cheques made payable to Ivan Fisher) would be welcome and may be sent care of Ivan Fisher Independent Funeral Home, The Old Bank, 2-4 Norwich Road, Aylsham, Norwich NR11 6BN.

Mourners are encouraged to wear comfortable, colourful attire if they wish.

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