More tributes paid to river tragedy Paul

IPSWICH: Friends and family today paid fresh tributes to one of the town’s genuine characters.

Well-loved musician, poet and artist Paul Ablett died in hospital two days after falling into the River Orwell in what is thought to have been a tragic accident.

The former Suffolk College tutor has been remembered as a colourful and talented personality with a love of the Suffolk countryside.

Mr Ablett is believed to have been on his way to catch a train to Cambridge for the annual folk festival, after seeing his mother in Chantry last Wednesday, when he fell into the River Orwell.

The 57-year-old, who lived in Ashmere Grove and would regularly walk alongside the river, was a keen folk musician and played at venues across the region.

Mr Ablett grew up in Campion Road, a few streets away from cousin Marilyn Wosahlo, who visited him as a child when he suffered from rheumatic fever and can remember him showing early flair for all things artistic.

The 61-year-old, from Belstead, said: “My sister and I took modelling clay round to shape into animals, and while ours looked like blobs, Paul’s would be perfect.

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“He was an imaginative deep thinker and would send me hand-painted greetings cards. But he never really wanted to make money from his art. He was a great one for reminiscing about our childhood.”

Mr Ablett was known as Jonah to many of his friends, including former colleague James Meek, who said: “He was never happier than hopping from a tiny foot-ferry to a seldom-used railway line, making sure to find time for a pint or two of local ale.”

Among Mr Ablett’s extensive artwork was Jonah’s Ark, a surrealist sequence of paintings accompanied by music from Roger Eno, who attended the same school in Ipswich.

Another friend, June Alexander, described him as a “zany, loyal, frustratingly old fashioned, gifted, knobbly-kneed, caring individual”.

Stephen Cole and Debbie Wendt became friends with Mr Ablett through working with him at Suffolk College. They said: “He was always a lateral free thinker, whose world view was never tied to party politics as such, but he was passionate on green issues. He was a man of nature and anti-materialistic.

“He used to get up before dawn had even thought about cracking to work on his journal or do his art. His journals were things of wonder.

“He had a lot of talent, and maybe he can inspire someone to express and develop their talents. He was, of course, also a great bloke to have a pint or two with at his beloved Dove, or anywhere else for that matter.

“It was a pleasure to know this lovely man, and he will be missed greatly by all those who knew him.”

n Send your tribute to Mr Ablett to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Broook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail