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Hundreds gather in Lewes to say goodbye to "king of the bonfire" Keith Austin
Hundreds of mourners lined the streets to say farewell to a community hero.
Lewes said goodbye to king of the bonfire Keith Austin as he took part in a final procession through the town yesterday, his coffin carried on a bell cart.
Members from all of the town’s bonfire societies came together to head the procession.
Friends said it was the send-off the “true citizen of Lewes” deserved.
Mr Austin, who died at his home in Priory Street in Lewes last month at the age of 75, was a former secretary of Cliffe and Southover bonfire societies.
He was also well-known in the town for his connections with the Lewes Lions and Lewes Operatic Society, his role as a local councillor and his connection with local taxi firm GM Taxis.
It was under escort of these taxis that Mr Austin’s body was delivered to The Dorset Arms in Malling Street, Lewes, yesterday afternoon where he was laid on a bell cart by the Lewes Bonfire Boys and Belles.
He was then placed in an open mar- quee at the back of the pub for well- wishers to pay their respects for 90 minutes.
Honour guard The bell cart was then pulled by two members of Southover Bonfire Society with an honour guard made up of six volunteers, one from each of the other Lewes Bonfire societies, who carried the coffin into Southover Church.
Following the service a brief cremation ceremony was held at Downs Crematorium in Brighton before a wake in the King’s Head in Southover Street, Lewes.
Tim Knight, president of Cliffe Bon- fire Society, said: “It was the sort of funeral he deserved.
“He was a fervent bonfire person and he wanted all the bonfire societies to be there today.
“It would have tickled him pink that all the traffic was held up with his Lewes state funeral.
“It was a lovely sunny day and the proper send-off for a citizen of Lewes.”
Donations to mark Mr Austin’s passing should be left in an envelope at the King’s Head and will go to the Lewes Victoria Hospital.
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