JUST by taking a look around Marks Tey you will see just a few of the contributions Nigel Fitch made to the village in his lifetime.

The Millennium garden, village hall and skate park all came about during his 15-year tenure as parish council chairman, while organising annual carnivals and events to name but a few.

But these are just a handful of his achievements which also include establishing and running a successful business, serving as director of Colchester United and being a dedicated father-of-four and family man.

They head up a long list of those lining up to pay tribute to the 78-year-old, who has died following a long illness.

In fact, he was surrounded by his beloved family and listening to Colchester United emerging victorious against Crawley Town, just hours before he passed away.

His youngest son, Michael, said: “We were all here with him and all crowded around the television and cheering when they scored and he definitely heard and knew they had won which was a lovely moment.”

Nigel was born in Marks Tey, living for almost his entire life in the house which once belonged to his grandparents, Freddie and Flo.

Daughter Wendy explained he was hugely intelligent and won a place at Colchester Royal Grammar School only to turn it down.

“He was a real grafter,” she said. “It was a hard time, he was one of three and his mother was on her own so he went out to get a job.

“This was where his lifelong love of tractors came from because when he should have been at school, he was out with the farmers, working.”

By the time he was in his late teens he had got a job full-time working for a churchman in Maidenburgh Street and then for Dennis Underwood.

His wife, Pauline, said his career path was interrupted by an untimely motorbike accident when was 16 which left him in Black Notley Hospital for a year.

His lifelong friend John Moules recollects the nurses regularly telling him and their other friends off for sneaking on to the ward to see him.

John added: “He was a legend in Marks Tey. I cannot think of many others who have done more for for the village.”

Having always been interested in radios, television and repairing electrical items Nigel went on to launch Marks Tey Radio in 1961, selling and hiring sets to customers and later providing sound systems to events.

Wendy said: “That came about because there was an election and someone drove by doing an announcement and he complained he couldn’t hear them and set about trying to improve it.”

That ingenuity continued to grow along with the business and by 1965 he had met Pauline and the couple married in 1971.

They soon began the family Nigel was so proud of which has now grown from Keith, Wendy, Paul and Michael to 21 including grandchildren Ben, Melissa, Richard, Savannah, Scarlett, Jorge, Harvey and Austin and 15-month-old great-grandson Arthur.

Michael, a successful magician who works all over the world, added: “Family was everything to him. He was extremely proud of all of us and I don’t think any of us would have achieved what we have without him and mum behind us all the way.

“I remember it started for me when I was about six and he would have people round from the Colchester United board and get me out of bed to perform magic for them,” he said.

Nigel’s older sons Keith and Paul now run Marks Tey Radio while almost all of the family live in a specially created estate of properties, Fitches Croft, behind the original home, which the couple had built more than 25 years ago.

Wendy said it has certainly contributed to the family being so close, spending every Christmas and New Year together, as well as special occasions.

“He wanted us to have everything he couldn’t because it was just a different time when he was so young,” added Michael.

Nigel was appointed to the board of directors at Colchester United in the early 1970s but stood down in 1986.

His long-time friend and fellow board member at that time John Schultz said: “I would often find Nigel and Pauline working late at night for Colchester United in many different capacities, including with a paint brush now and then.

“We shared many happy times on away days and, of course, every home match.”

Nigel got involved with the parish council shortly after leaving the club and stayed as its chairman for 15 years while also indulging his boyhood love of tractors, eventually buying three old ones and also collecting radio memorabilia.

Having survived throat cancer 11 years ago, Nigel’s health began to deteriorate two years ago when he was diagnosed with a rare form of Parkinson’s disease.

Wendy says the whole family have been comforted by the outpouring of warmth and memories of Nigel since news of his death was announced.

His funeral will be held on Monday, November 11 at St Andrew’s Church, in Marks Tey.