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Tributes to entertainer who became mayor of Cambridge

A former mayor of Cambridge who once thrilled audiences as part of a variety double act with his brother has died aged 91.

Maurice Garner served on the city council for nearly two decades, becoming the city’s mayor in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year, 1977.

He was Cambridge born and bred, attending St Luke’s Primary School and then the Central School for Boys.

Aged around 13, he teamed up with his brother, Bert, to launch what was to become a popular stage show featuring music, comedy and conjuring.

Known as The Garner Brothers, the two young lads travelled the south east entertaining the troops during the war, putting on more than 1,000 performances.

Both played piano accordion and other instruments, and they included magic tricks and ventriloquism in their stage show.

They were later offered the chance to turn professional, but decided not to.

Following National Service in Cirencester, Mr Garner went to work for a the legal firm, Johnson Garrard & Co, later meeting lawyer Paddy Crossman and spending the rest of his career with Crossman & Co Solicitors as their probate and conveyancing lawyer and office manager.

Maurice had met the love of his life, Jean, when they were both teenagers, and he married her – at a double wedding with Jean’s sister – at St Luke’s Church in 1953.

In 1966, having retired from the world of entertainment, he became involved in local politics, becoming one of the youngest elected councillors on the city council, representing West Chesterton ward. He served on the council until 1984.

In 1990, at the age of 63, he underwent a triple heart bypass, but continued to work with numerous organisations and charities, including raising funds for the first cancer scanner machine at Addenbrooke’s.

He also helped city charities looking after the elderly, was a school governor and worked on patient panels. His tireless work was recognised in 2016 with an MBE.

In a statement his family said: “As a family we are devastated by his loss, but have been comforted by the overwhelming support and words of love we have received, and this has reinforced that not only was he so special to us, but to everyone who encountered his sunny personality and the twinkle in his eye.”

He and Jean celebrated 63 years of marriage before she passed away in 2016. They had three children, Karen, Paul and Niki, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

His funeral will be at West Chapel, Cambridge Crematorium at 1pm on Friday, April 12.

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