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Beeston family Christmas lights tribute

PUBLISHED: 17:08 09 November 2008 | UPDATED: 14:48 07 July 2010

Emma Knights

He was a man who every year helped Santa bring some extra special festive cheer to schoolchildren in a Norfolk village, and now his family are making sure that Beeston will sparkle in his memory this Christmas.

He was a man who every year helped Santa bring some extra special festive cheer to schoolchildren in a Norfolk village, and now his family are making sure that Beeston will sparkle in his memory this Christmas.

For when Beeston Village Stores has its annual Christmas lights switch on this month the colourful decorations twinkling in the night sky will all be in honour of Neil Cork who died of a brain haemorrhage in July 2007.

His wife Ria and their son 11-year-old son Riley, who will turn on the lights, decided to fund the village shop's lights this yuletide because of how much Mr Cork, a 40-year-old professional development manager for Norwich Union, loved the festive season.

Mrs Cork, 38, said for many years Neil helped bring Christmas to life for pupils at Beeston Primary School, often helped by Riley who dressed up as an elf.

She said: “Neil had special permission from Santa to help listen to the young children's wishes and see what could be done.

“Neil loved Christmas, not the commercial Christmas, but the one that allowed him to be with the people that he loved. We always went to the turning on of the lights and enjoyed the atmosphere and seeing the children having fun.

“That is why we decided to dedicate the Christmas lights to Neil, because it is a fun way of remembering him.”

As well his love of Christmas, Mr Cork had a zest for life as a whole.

Mrs Cork said: “Whether you knew Neil as a member of his family, someone who jumped in a light aircraft and flew with him, a mischievous Norwich Union work friend, a very slightly crazy and very off-piste skiing companion or as a Kuk Sool Won black belt with a big heart and cheeky grin, Neil lived for 40 years and in that time his passion for life and adventure was a struggle to keep up with.”

And now his family hope that Beeston Village Stores' Christmas lights will help to raise valuable funds for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

The big switch on is on November 26 at 6.30pm at Beeston Village Stores. On the evening there will be a whole host of festive activities to enjoy including a charity auction and toy sale.

Santa will also be there giving out gifts to boys and girls. But before the event he needs help gathering small presents for the youngsters. Up to 100 items are needed, such as costume jewellery for girls and toy cars for boys, and all money raised by youngsters visiting Santa will be donated to the air ambulance.

Anyone who can help should contact Debbie Noakes on 01328 701221.

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