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Gentleman jeweller and passionate conservationist Peter Howkins dies aged 88

PUBLISHED: 08:23 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:54 21 February 2018

Antiques expert Peter Howkins pictured working at the Antiques Roadshow in Hopton. Photo: Nick Butcher

Antiques expert Peter Howkins pictured working at the Antiques Roadshow in Hopton. Photo: Nick Butcher

An antiques’ expert and passionate conservationist who was among those responsible for saving St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth has died aged 88.

Antiques expert Peter Howkins pictured giving his advice to the public at a special antiques roadshow to raise money for the JPH.
 Photo: Nick ButcherAntiques expert Peter Howkins pictured giving his advice to the public at a special antiques roadshow to raise money for the JPH. Photo: Nick Butcher

Depending on what sphere you knew him in Peter Howkins was a gentleman jeweller, fundraiser, gifted sportsman, and an enthusiastic sailer.

In the 1970s he was among a determined group spearheading a community effort to save St George’s and guarantee its future at a time when some wanted to knock it down.

Its current status as a year-round theatre is testament to his vision and resolve.

For a long time his jewellery shop in King Street - a stone’s throw from the landmark building he and his wife Valerie cherished - was the hub of the operation to save it.

Antiques, wine and cheese at St Nicholas Church, Great Yarmouth, on September 17, 2008 .
Malcolm Tuddenham, Peter Howkins. 
Photo: Bob HobbsAntiques, wine and cheese at St Nicholas Church, Great Yarmouth, on September 17, 2008 . Malcolm Tuddenham, Peter Howkins. Photo: Bob Hobbs

Fellow committee member Pamela Boon hailed his tireless energy during that period.

Although he never trod the boards himself he and Valerie supported the performances and delighted in all elements of running a theatre, including sometimes serving the drinks.

She said it was the fabric of the building and its history that captivated him, driving his efforts.

Because of his many talents he was “so many things to so many people” Mrs Boon said, hailing his hard work and contribution.

Others remember him for his sporting prowess.

A gifted rugby player with a life-long involvement with Lowestoft and Yarmouth Rugby Club a report in this newspaper once declared “everybody should play like Howkins.”

Russell Wilson president of Lowestoft & Yarmouth RUFC said the club was very sad to hear of the passing of one of its much-loved members.

He said: “Peter was a member of the rugby club for a number of years as a player, committee member and life vice president.

“Although in later years he had mobility problems he would often still attend lunches and take his very vocal support to the touchline for matches.

“In his playing days he can only be described as a robust second row forward and was part of the generation who raised the money for the move from Warmer Road to L&Y’s current home of Gunton Park in 1964.

“Peter was a well-respected member of the club with a love of rugby and a formidable character both on and off the pitch.

“He will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him.”

He was also involved with the tennis club.

For many years he ran Peter Howkins jewellers in King Street with his wife. The couple had three children, Anna, Eva and David.

After they separated he had the antique shop opposite in the former gas showrooms, which later became Valerie’s Museum of Memories, set up in tribute to the couple’s son David who died, aged 18 in 1979 from undiagnosed pneumonia.

Mr Howkins, a devoted grandfather to seven, had been ill for some time, and died in hospital on Monday. He had been cared for by his wife Nola.

His enthusiasm for plans and projects was undimmed to the end, his daughter Eva said.

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