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We regret to report the demise of these members of the Order and other Illustrious Fools and Beasts

Martin Harris (October 2012)

It is with deep regret that we to announce the passing of Martin Harris, Hartley Morris Men's Fool, whose jovial spirit left this mortal shore
on 23rd October 2012.
Martin was a very colourful character, always cheerful and popular with both audiences and the Morris fraternity. He will be sadly missed.

We remember his double fools jig with Jack Brown at the Utrecht Unconvention,
demonstrating that an NHS hip replacement allowed him to continue his exuberant style of dancing.

‘Thus would we pass from this earth and its toiling

Only remembered for what we have done’

Terry Heaslip Squire, Hartley Morris Men            

John Colbert (December 1945 - February 2012)

It is with much sadness that we have to report the loss of another eminent fool. John Colbert, Fool to the Woodside Morris men for many years and more recently a leading member and occasional "Green Man" with Stafford Morris Men lost his battle with cancer on 26th February 2012. He was well known and well liked throughout the Morris world and he will be sorely missed.

A proper obituary will appear on these pages in due course, but more details and pictures can be seen on the Stafford MM web site at

At the end of the service at the 2013 Thaxted Ring Meeting, a new etched panel in the "Fools Window" was dedicated to John Colbert of Woodside, Stafford and Cambridge Travelling Morris. It was fitting that John's widow Barbara was present together with a strong contingent of Stafford and Woodside Men.

Maybe other sides should consider further such commemorations.

The new window engraving showing John Colbert in his Green Man Outfit.

Geoff Hebditch

Geoff Hebditch, erstwhile fool and dancer with King John's Morris died at 08.25 on Friday, 11th November 2011

On Sunday Geoff was riding his recumbent tricycle in Fareham and was involved in an RTA with a motorbike, resulting in bleeding on the brain, other internal bleeding and multiple fractures. He was being kept sedated in an attempt to stabilise his condition enough to transfer him to Southampton's neuro-surgery department. A post mortem took take place because of the circumstances and then plans were made for "a large thanksgiving for his life", in Mary's words. We were discussing what a joy it had been to him to manage to get to this year's Fools and Beasts Unconvention and take an active part.

The service was held on Tuesday 24th November at St. Peter's Church, Titchfield, at 1130. with the family only going to the crematorium.
The celebration continued at The Bugle, The Square, which is within easy walking distance of the church.
Morris representatives were asked to come in kit, no black is allowed (unless it is part of kit), and bring instruments.
Mary requested an honour guard of dancers, fools, etc. as the coffin entered the church.

A tribute from Maarten Niessen, Fool of the Helmond Morrismen

when words couldn't tell de story,
tears will tell the story instead.

(The above message was received from Christina)

John Maher ("Horse", Bristol MM)

It is with great sadness that we report that John  passed away on Monday 18th July 2011.
We shall miss him, and we offer  our sincere condolences to his family.

Thomas Albert (Sonny) Townsend (1914 - 2008)

We regret to inform you that Sonny, the Clown of the Bampton Traditional Morris Men passed away in December 2008 at the substantial age of 94.

For those who may not have known Sonny here are a few notes about him. Son Townsend was the last link to the old Bampton Morris and his death marks the end of an era.

Although all his life he was known as Son, Sonner or Sonny he was born Thomas Albert Townsend on 24th May 1914, his father Albert kept the Elephant and Castle in Bampton which was the HQ for the Bampton Morris. He first danced at Whitsun in 1925 aged 11, on the 'instruction' of his grandfather Thomas Porlock, one of three brothers who danced in the last half of the 19th Century. Many of the old team were related to each other and Thomas Porlock was married to Elizabeth, sister of Harry Radband, one time team Squire, and she was also aunt to William 'Jinky' Wells.

His 'Bampton' dancing was from the old team days of the Tanners before the team split up in the late 1920's. He was fascinating to talk to about those days. After the Second World War the two teams came together for a short period, but then in the 1950's Sonny helped Arnold Woodley rebuild the old traditional team and he was the Clown for Arnold's team for many years. He remained close friends with him until Arnold's death. He kept up his dancing until well into his eighties.  

Barry Care

Sonny Townsend's funeral details:   

Monday 5th January at 12.30pm in Bampton Parish Church.
The family are happy for kit to be worn by Morris men if they wish to do so.
Son was the Clown for the Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers and they will be in their whites.


John Butler (1952 - 2007)

A Tragic Accident

The following message was received from Mick Buckley Bagman Ripley Morris Men

It is with deep sadness that I inform you of the death of John Butler. 

John died tragically in a road traffic accident by Woodall services on the M1 on the evening of 18th July 2007. 

John was Ripley’s Fool for over 20 years.  He leaves a  huge hole in the hearts of Ripley Morris Men and the wider Morris community to whom John was well known. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out in support of Helen and his boys, Dave, Tim and Ian.
Also to brother Gilbert.


I have asked our webmaster to arrange for a memories of John the Fool message board to be placed on .

Those who knew John can record their memories there and these will be passed to John’s family.


John was a keen supporter of the Fools and Beasts and a regular attender of Unconventions. We knew him as a friend and saw him as a "Good Fool" who related well to everyone. He was largely responsible for the excellent Cromford Unconvention in 2005 and he will be irreplaceable. The thoughts and condolences of all who knew him, especially members of the Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts, are with his family and friends at this tragic time.