Born and bred in Thetford, it was his dedication to the local area that saw him shed the moniker “Little David” and go on to become “Mr T”. 

Given as homage to both his surname and his home, the nickname summed up perfectly David Turner's connection with the town.

For more than 60 years, Mr Turner went above and beyond for the bereaved after happenstance saw him become a funeral director. 

What had begun as a straight-from-school apprenticeship in carpentry, through building coffins he was eventually lulled into an entirely different career. 

Thetford & Brandon Times: David Turner

His daughter, Lydia Turner, who worked alongside her father at Turner Funerals for 25 years, explained. 

“Thetford is one of those towns where everyone helps everyone,” she said. 

“So, while dad was making coffins, he would sometimes get asked if he could help be a pallbearer. 

“Then, as time went on, he got asked to do more and more things. 

Thetford & Brandon Times: Another of David Turner's passions was motorbikes

“The rest, as they say, is history.” 

David John Turner was born on February 8, 1944, and was the second child born to Gilbert Turner, a farm worker, and wife Lillian, who was known as the town’s unofficial midwife.  

Mr Turner and his sister, Dawn, became fifth-generation Thetfordians. 

As a child, he was well-known throughout the town. 

Ms Turner said: “He was very cheeky and chatty and absolutely had the gift of the gab. 

“The woman in the town who knew him from when he was a child still called him ‘Little David’. 

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“Thetford ran through his veins, and he was so engrained in the town. 

“He always said he was never at home until he was back in Thetford

“He would stop and chat to people – he was very much a people person – and help where he could. 

“From the Lion’s Club to community events such as the carnival and fetes, he was this big teddy bear who would help everyone.” 

Before Mr Turner turned 20, he had already found his calling in the funeral industry. 

Thetford & Brandon Times: David Turner died on September 29

He began his business by renting a room during the 1970s at what is now called Lydia House, renamed by Mr Turner himself. 

“Since his passing, I’ve had families he worked with 30 to 40 years ago make contact and tell me what an impact his support had on them,” Ms Turner added. 

“He just loved his work, loved being a funeral director. 

“Following his passing, the town has shown so much support and compassion for me and my family.   

“He was just loved by so many.” 

Thetford & Brandon Times: David Turner with his daughters

Mr Turner married Margaret, known as Margot, in 1970. The couple had two daughters; Victoria (b.1975) and Lydia (b.1979). They later divorced in 1983.

Ms Turner affectionately described him as a father who had a “naughty side”, citing mischief such as sneaking sweets to his daughters at the school gates during lunch times. 

Mr Turner died on September 28, aged 79. He leaves behind his two daughters, grandsons, and sister. 

His funeral took place last month at St Cuthbert's Church in Thetford. 

Numerous funeral directors escorted him on his last journey, together with a motorbike escort convoy – he was passionate about motorcycles – around the town.

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