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Local artist Rufus Fox, Mill Road friend, loses battle with coronavirus




Artist Rufus Fox with some art materials at Ellis House, where he was staying while his Mill Road flat was refurbished. He was not able to return to his home before his passing. Picture: Keith Heppell
Artist Rufus Fox with some art materials at Ellis House, where he was staying while his Mill Road flat was refurbished. He was not able to return to his home before his passing. Picture: Keith Heppell

Local artist Rufus Fox lost his battle against the coronavirus last night. Rufus, aged 76, had also contracted pneumonia alongside other ailments and passed away just hours after he had been taken out of the intensive care unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Born in Newcastle, Rufus - whose grandfather was Lord Mayor of Bradford - moved to Cambridge as a child. He attended the Perse School and acquired a degree in art at Anglia Ruskin University. His painting in the White Swan - of a swan - brought his talent to the attention of the local community. He travelled extensively around the UK selling his artwork before taking up residence in Mill Road, not far from the Devonshire Arms, his much-loved local pub.

A notification of his passing on A Cambridge Diary resulted in hundreds of people paying tribute, with other social media posts including a bravura dance routine by the artist. Among the comments were:

“Such a kind person. You will always be part of Mill Road Winter and will live on forever.”

“A dear friend of ours for years. He was the kindest most lovely person. RIP Lovely Rufus.”

“Rufus will be sadly missed, he was a great man with amazing talent and humour. He always had a cheeky wink for the ladies and put a smile on my face every time I saw him.”

“How terribly sad, this really brings it home.”

“Feel Honoured to have met Rufus. RIP.”

“How sad. I did an art degree with him many years ago. He was wonderful.”

“The best Fox ever - fly high my friend.”

Watercolour by Rufus Fox
Watercolour by Rufus Fox

Last year, Rufus came to the attention of the wider community through a mishap with a toaster which resulted in Mill Road being closed. When he was temporarily rehoused in Ellis House, a crowdfunding appeal resulted in generosity from the public that touched him deeply.

“Thanks so much for the donations,” Rufus said of the response at the time. “I really appreciate it. Everyone’s been so kind and it has really moved me. The money will be so helpful – I can get everything going again.”

Rufus’ family have spoken of the difficulty in making appropriate arrangements to honour his passing and celebrate his colourful and charismatic life - “he was often to be found around Mill Road dressed to the nines in a top hat and silk shirt,” said one of his friends.

One of Rufus’ daughters, Jill Hunny - one of six children he sired - said: “We don’t want a funeral at this time, things are complicated enough. I’ve talked to my brother Rafe, we’d like to do a wake after the funeral. A wake is a get-together but because of social distancing I don’t want to arrange that at the moment. It’ll happen when people can attend later in the year. We’d rather not do anything now and want to include everyone in time. That’s what they would like the most.

“As we build up to that time we’ll decide where to scatter the ashes, perhaps in Yorkshire - he’s quite a famous artist in the Dales - where his family lives.

“We’ll find a way to invite people to comment so that everyone can be included.”

The family thanked staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital for doing everything they could to make Rufus’ final hours comfortable.

Rufus Fox with friend in the Devonshire Arms on Mill Road, where his favourite meal was chilli and chips
Rufus Fox with friend in the Devonshire Arms on Mill Road, where his favourite meal was chilli and chips


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