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Tributes paid after death of former Norwich policeman

PUBLISHED: 17:50 19 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:38 01 July 2010

Cecil Mason.

Cecil Mason.

Peter Walsh

Hundreds of people were today due to attend a funeral service for a 'genial and affable' former city policeman who dedicated his life to helping and serving others.

Hundreds of people were todaydue to attend a funeral service for a “genial and affable” former city policeman who dedicated his life to helping and serving others.

Cecil Mason, 78, known to his friends and family as Johnny, died suddenly while on holiday in South Africa last month after he suffered an aneurysm.

A funeral service for Mr Mason, from Thorpe St Andrew, who died on April 11, was held at the Episcpopi Church, in Yarmouth Road, Thorpe.

Mr Mason, who worked at Laurence Scott Electromotors (LSE) in the city before joining the Royal Navy, joined Norwich City Police, as it was then, in 1956 and spent 30 years as a serving policeman - receiving several commendations throughout his career.

After retiring from the beat, Mr Mason became Norfolk Constabulary's historian and archivist - a role that he performed right up until his death.

Joyce Fish, 78, a life-long friend of Mr Mason, who was on holiday with him when he died, was one of those who attended the emotional service.

She said: “He was just a nice guy - always happy and loved kids and the family. He really was a nice guy. It's just such a shame - he had so many things going for him. It just seems so unfair.”

Mrs Fish, a mother-of-five, grandmother-of-12 and great grandmother-of-three, who lives on the Heartsease estate, said she has been friends with Mr Mason since she was just 13 when he was in the sea cadets and she was in the girls' version.

She said Mr Mason and her husband Ron both served in the Royal Navy, although her husband was posted to South Africa and Mr Mason the Far East. Ron was invalided out of the navy after being struck down with polio and confined to a wheelchair.

Mrs Fish said it was then that Mr Mason showed what a great friend he was. She said: “He really did the things with the kids that Ron couldn't do - take them swimming and rambles over Mousehold. He's always done so much with them. He was Ron's legs really. He was more than a friend, he was part of the family.”

When Mrs Fish lost her husband, in 2001, Mr Mason again supported her, as he did in 2006 when she was diagnosed with cancer of the ear. She said: “He's been good to me. As I've gradually got better we've had holidays and a good life.”

Mr Mason's niece Sue, 44, who attended the funeral with her mother Beryl and brother John, said: “He was one of a kind. He was a very happy man with boundless enthusiasm. He was a friend to so many. He was very special to many, many people. He's someone who will be missed and who has left a very big hole.”

Maurice Morson, former head of Norfolk CID and now a historian and author, said: “I've known him throughout his career. He was what I would call the original Dixon of Dock Green community policeman - very genial and very affable to the public. I don't know anyone who had a bad word to say about him. A lot of people have cause to be grateful to Cecil John. He dedicated his life to helping and serving others. He was a great chap.”

Would you like to pay tribute to a loved one? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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