Marshman Eric Edwards - a man who came to embody the spirit of the Broads - has died at the age of 71.
Eric, who cut reed and sedge at How Hill National Nature Reserve for 40 years, officially retired from the Broads Authority five years ago but continued to tend his beloved reed beds.
Eric, who began working at the reserve in 1967, kept the Broads traditions alive with his trademark smock, hat and neckerchief. He was one of only two reed-cutters in the Broads to still use a scythe.
He gave thousands of talks and demonstrations to schoolchildren at the How Hill Environmental Study Centre, captivating his audience with his enthusiasm and his personal collection of Victorian marsh tools and traps.
– Simon Partridge, Director, How Hill Trust
People loved Eric. He was a character and we don't get many characters in society. He was very open, he was authentic - a true Norfolk man."
Although he was reportedly 'very quiet' when he first came to How Hill, Eric, a former Norfolk County footballer from Ludham, became a media celebrity. He appeared in the Generation Game with Bruce Forsyth and Jim Davidson three times, was interviewed by Sir Harry Secombe in Highway, appeared on The New Paul O’Grady Show, and was a regular in television documentaries about the Broads.
He gave Margaret Thatcher and Prince Charles lessons in stacking and dressing reed - famously telling Lady Thatcher she was 'doing it wrong'. Pictures of Eric can also be found on cards and postcards and in paintings depicting the romance of the Broads.
Eric always said he loved his job and the outdoor life.