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Tributes paid to late inspirational Suffolk musician Mat Bayfield

PUBLISHED: 08:17 04 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:35 04 October 2019

Mat Bayfield won the Unsung Hero of the Year award at the Stars of Suffolk in 2017   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mat Bayfield won the Unsung Hero of the Year award at the Stars of Suffolk in 2017 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Tributes have been paid to popular musician and former Stars of Suffolk winner Mat Bayfield after he died following a seven-year battle with an inoperable brain tumour.

Mat Bayfield performed alongside friend Eric Sedge in the duo the Broadside Boys Picture: SIMON PARKERMat Bayfield performed alongside friend Eric Sedge in the duo the Broadside Boys Picture: SIMON PARKER

Mr Bayfield, 48, rose to fame locally during his time in the folk duo The Broadside Boys - but showed Suffolk his heart after being diagnosed with the brain tumour in 2012.

A charitable man with a passion for music

In defiance of his ill-health, Mat continued to pursue his love of music and raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity - raising thousands of pounds through a series of charity walks.

The walks, aptly called "Mat's Walk and Talk" began as a way to lose weight but later skyrocketed from a group of just 16 to more than 500.

Mat and Kelly married in January 2019 after announcing their engagement at the Stars of Suffolk in 2017 Picture: SEANA HUGHESMat and Kelly married in January 2019 after announcing their engagement at the Stars of Suffolk in 2017 Picture: SEANA HUGHES

His fundraising efforts and positive attitude led him to be named the Unsung Hero of the Year at the 2017 Stars of Suffolk Awards, the same year his mammoth 100-day tour with bandmate Eric Sedge was cut short by ill health.

Mat made it to the awards ceremony after spending the previous night at Addenbrooke's Hospital for treatment on the tumour he revealed was jokingly named "Brian". That night, he revealed then partner Kelly was to become his wife.

The pair would later marry in January 2018 at St. Andrews Church in the Glenham Estate, where his grandfather worked as head gamekeeper.

An inspiration

Mat Bayfield (left) and Eric Sedge, The Broadside Boys perform at the Mid Suffolk Light Railway at Wetheringsett summer jamboree.Mat Bayfield (left) and Eric Sedge, The Broadside Boys perform at the Mid Suffolk Light Railway at Wetheringsett summer jamboree.

His awe-inspiring fundraising efforts later led friend and Suffolk's Wildlife Gadget Man Jason Alexander to raise money for the charity through his beach cleans along the Suffolk coast.

Mr Alexander said: "He was the kind of person who had so many friends and that's simply because he was such a nice fella.

"You hear about inspiring people around the world but I can honestly say he is one of the only people who has truly inspired me, and that is because of his courage and achievements made over the years."

Never giving up

Releasing his solo album in 2018, Mat wrote of the struggles of treatment, documenting the hardships of radiotherapy through the eyes of a sailor yearning to meet up with his loved ones back home.

He was told his tumour was terminal in July 2019 but pledged not to be negative, adding he lived by his motto: "It's no rehearsal."

But after proving his passion to the world, his battle against the tumour ended on Wednesday, October 3 after being admitted to hospital the previous night.

In a Facebook post, FolkEast Festival said: "Although we all knew this day would come it is always a shock when it does.

"We feel so desperately sad for Kelly and the family.

"Mat may be gone but he will not be forgotten and his legacy will remain strong at the festival, and as he often said #LifeIsNotARehearsal."

One of Mat's bandmates, Eric Sedge, said: "I was Mat's musical partner in folk duo the broadside boys, we first met at Thomas mills high school, played football together at Framingham town and then formed our band in 2010, performing at folk clubs, festivals and pubs, before embarking on a national tour in 2017.

"Mat carried knowledge of his medical condition with tremendous courage and dignity, determined not to allow illness to detract from his performance, or curb his ambitions.

"He was always positive and concentrated on what he could achieve rather than what he'd lost. Today we've lost a dear dear friend and world seems much diminished with his passing."

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