Tributes to global acrobatics star Mark, who 'lived life to the fullest'

Mark Digby, pictured in 2013. 

Mark Digby, pictured in 2013. - Credit: The Digby family

Tributes have been paid to a "phenomenon" of the theatre world who inspired droves of acrobats and performers to pursue their dreams. 

Mark 'Marx' Digby was born in Essex but moved to north Norfolk with his family at the age of 13 before becoming a well-known face around Norwich later in life.

The oldest of three siblings, Mark spent his youth exploring his talents and teaching himself to play instruments including the flute and the recorder. 

Mark taught himself to play musical instruments

Mark taught himself to play musical instruments - Credit: The Digby family

Living in The Lowlands among other performance-focussed families Mark's teenage years also saw him creating plays and ultimately discovering acrobatics. 

Where Mark, who was born in October of 1963, thought he had simply discovered a hobby it later turned into his full-time profession. 

Mark with friends in Norfolk

Mark pictured at the back growing up in Norfolk - Credit: The Digby family

In his early 20s Mark began an apprenticeship with Derek Carpenters Family Circus before moving to Sir Anthony Quayles' Compass Theatre Company and later the Ra-Ra Zoo company. 

His career saw him performing across the globe at the likes of the Sydney Opera House, Glastonbury, Alexandra Palace and more. 

Mark fire breathing

Mark fire breathing - Credit: The Digby family

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Mark was often spotted on television as well as appearing in films alongside the likes of Mel Gibson in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet as the court jester. 

In 1989 he met the mother of his children, musician Ali Houiellebecq, while on tour in South Africa. 

Ali said: "You don't meet a lot of people like Mark. He lived life to the absolute fullest.

Mark in his days as a performer

Mark in his days as a performer - Credit: The Digby family

"He was so phenomenally talented. I knew a lot of performers and we travelled with a lot of people from show to show so we met a lot of talented people. 

"But the thing with Mark was, he didn't have an ego. So many people who are that skilled do but he just thought of it as something he was good at. 

Mark reads a copy of the Evening News while doing a flip

Mark reads a copy of the Evening News while doing a flip - Credit: Archant

"He was so humble and unassuming. He was naturally charismatic and it drew people to him but he never demanded attention."

The pair had two sons, Duki and Milo, who have also entered the theatre world as sound and lighting engineers, two of many inspired by their father. 

Mark in his performing days

Mark in his performing days - Credit: The Digby family

Ali continued: "Duki was born in 1990 and Milo was born two-and-a-half years later. It was a testament to the sort of person Mark was that he would turn his back on the hugely successful career he had, to launch a show as a family unit. 

"We created a two person show based on a conductor and an opera singer."

Mark performing on the trapeze

Mark performing on the trapeze - Credit: The Digby family

On a rig Mark engineered off the back of a truck the pair and their sons travelled the world between 1990 and 2000. 

Ali said: "We bought a cottage in Briston as a base but we would leave for months on end. 

"One year we were performing in Australia at a Sydney Opera House festival and then found out we had been booked at a Royal performance in Perth. 

One of Mark's many talents was juggling

One of Mark's many talents was juggling - Credit: The Digby family

"So we rented a camper van and drove it right the way across the country through the desert.

"Mark was the one who was always building and mending things - he built the rig off the back of the truck which was so well engineered he could do a trapeze performance on it.

"He was so intensely intelligent."

Mark mid-somersault 

Mark mid-somersault - Credit: The Digby family

Upon returning to Norfolk, where his family still live, Mark began to suffer with his mental health. 

Living in a flat in Norwich's Dereham Road, Mark found support in the street community and likewise provided a friendly face for many people to turn to. 

Mark on tour with his family in New Zealand

Mark on tour with his family in New Zealand - Credit: The Digby family

Mark's sisters said: "Throughout Mark’s life he influenced so many and, even in those last years, played an important role in having a positive impact on his friends within the street community - providing companionship, care and endless laughs.

"So we want to say a special thank you to Mark’s Norwich friends, such as Nina and Dale and so many more, who looked out for Mark in his final years.

"You helped him and so you helped us. Thank you. In the end it was little things that mattered most to Mark.

Mark travelled all over the world 

Mark travelled all over the world - Credit: The Digby family

"That kept him going. When he was gonna have his next drink? His next ciggy break? And the forgiveness, understanding and love of his friends and family."

Mark died in Norwich on October 29 at the age of 58.