Tributes to talented musician who died after fall into river

IPSWICH: He was a prolific artist, a talented musician and an avid writer of journals – everyone who knew Paul Ablett will remember him as a “fantastic and unique” man.

Mr Ablett, 56, died in hospital on Friday from his injuries after falling into the River Orwell near Ipswich rail station on Wednesday.

Neighbours today spoke of a friendly and courteous man who would always stop and pass the time of day, although someone who would mostly “keep himself to himself”.

A former tutor at Suffolk College, Mr Ablett was particularly well-known on the local art scene.

Last night, an easel with an unfinished picture on it stood poignantly in the front room of his ramshackle home of a quarter of a century in Ashmere Grove, known as “The Ark”.

His close friend of many years and fellow Green Party member Jane Scott spoke warmly of him and said his death was “a tragedy”.

She said: “I will just miss him every day. He was a very special individual and there is a good core group of people who will miss him to bits.

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“He’s a completely fantastic and unique man and it’s just a tragedy. It seems so surreal to be talking about the fact that he won’t just turn up.”

Ms Scott said she hoped to eventually arrange an exhibition of Mr Ablett’s surrealist artwork in a bid to pay tribute to him.

She said: “He was a very talented artist and musician and had lived locally all his life. His house is full of surrealist paintings.

“He’s famous for his journals that he used to keep, which included watercolours and notes. He also always carried at least four Waterman fountain pens – all with different coloured ink – because he hated using biros.

“He would send lots of handmade cards – my birthday was in July and he sent me one. He even made the envelopes. Almost everybody he came across, he would do them a card.

“I’m going to try to put together an exhibition of his work eventually.”

She also spoke fondly of his passion for East Anglia, in particular the Norfolk coast and his love of the railways – he even had a vast hand-crafted model train set at his home that he had been working on for decades.

She said that only a few months ago had he finally “joined the 21st century” and purchased a mobile phone, taking great joy in sending her his first text while travelling on a train.

Mr Ablett’s elderly mother still lives in the town and he had two sisters and a brother.

Pals at the Dove pub in St Helen’s Street, where he was a regular for many years, said they believed he had accidentally ended up in the river, possibly passing out and falling in due to the new medication he had been taking.

He was reportedly heading to the station to catch a train to the Cambridge Folk Festival, one of his favourite annual events. A keen folk musician, he had appeared with several bands and played at venues across the region. He was also friends with Roger and Brian Eno, who grew up in Woodbridge and went to school together in Ipswich.

His pals at the Dove also spoke about his prized journals – one mentioned 83 volumes – that he filled out almost every day, complete with sketches and watercolours.

n Did you know Mr Ablett? Would you like to pay tribute? Call The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk