Obituary: Skilled engineer and beloved family man dies aged 82

Harold Kerslake, following his retirement, in his study at home in Hethersett

Harold Kerslake, following his retirement, in his study at home in Hethersett - Credit: Supplied by family

He was a man defined by living a life filled with love and dedicating himself to a number of services in his community. 

Whether it was his skills as an engineer, sportsman, and musician, or his devotion to his faith, Harold Kerslake was an individual who spent a lifetime supporting others. 

Born in 1940 in Chelston near Torquay, Devon, Harold John Brendon Kerslake, grew up in the county in the town of Ashburton. 

Following his education at King Edward VI Grammar School, Totnes, he undertook a degree in electronics at Leeds University and graduated in 1963. 

Harold and Mary Kerslake on their wedding day

Harold and Mary Kerslake on their wedding day - Credit: Supplied by family

After university, he became employed as an electronics engineer, working with accelerometers and flight-testing aircraft instrumentation for Smiths Industries.

Later, in 1967, he obtained a certificate in education and became a lecturer in electronic engineering at Norwich City College. 

His other educational accolades include becoming a chartered electronic engineer and a corporate member of the IEE, now called IET, in 1971.

Most Read

He also received a master’s degree in science in digital and microcomputer systems engineering at the University of East Anglia in 1989. 

Little Melton Christmas Fair.Pictured is the Rev Mary Kerslake with her knitted figures on the Chr

Little Melton Christmas Fair, where pictured is the late-Rev Mary Kerslake with her knitted figures on the Christmas tree - Credit: Submitted

Mr Kerslake married the late reverend Mary Tunnah on August 5, 1963.

The couple had two children; John, in 1965, and Jeremy, in 1969.

Mrs Kerslake died in September 2015.   

His family said: “A man of deep faith in God and a devoted member of this church from cradle to grave.

“He was a man who only ever saw the good in other people, helped them to succeed and be happy, and wanted to make the world a better place. 

“We have lost a treasure.”  

Six Hethersett couples celebrate their Golden Weddings in 2013. From left, front, Maragret and Alan

Six Hethersett couples celebrating their golden wedding anniversaries in 2013. From left, front, Margaret and Alan Waller. Back, Harold and Rev Mary Kerslake; John and Wendy Turner; Jim and Joy Bartram; the Bishop of Thetford, Rt Rev Alan Winton; Peter and Juliet Salter; and Michael and Anne Hallam - Credit: Archant 2013

During their marriage, the couple supported their local community, both in Hethersett then Little Melton where they were choristers.

Mr Kerslake served as a Church of England lay reader and Little Melton’s churchwarden while his wife was the priest. They also ran summer holiday church clubs for many years. 

Mr Kerslake was a talented sportsman, described as “a scary one at times”.

“Other cricketers used to back away and urge him not to throw the cricket ball too hard at the stumps when trying to run a batsman out,” the family added. 

“He also ran a boys’ team for years. 

“He was an enthusiast who went through periods of time when he had a passion for certain leisure time activities including rugby, motorbiking, darts, cards, table tennis, bowls, boating, caravanning, and playing the trumpet.” 

Harold and Mary Kerslake on their wedding day. Picture: submitted

Harold and Mary Kerslake on their wedding day - Credit: Supplied by family

Some of the family’s favourite memories of him include watching him mend old cars, playing cricket with him, and seeing him setting up and operating the village pantomime lighting. 

“He was playful, quick to laugh and clown around. He didn’t take himself too seriously and invited others to laugh with him – and laugh at him. Such as when he dressed up as a religious Teletubby or the Easter bunny. 

“He also had a daft sense of humour, was fair in all things, would play to win, gave everyone a chance, and had a do-your-best attitude.”

As a grandfather, he was known affectionately as "silly grandad". 


Harold Kerslake flying a teddy bear from the top of Little Melton church, where he was a churchwarden - Credit: Archant

In retirement, he invigilated at the UEA, repaired radios for the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind, and became a volunteer driver for the Priscilla Bacon Lodge hospice.   

Mr Kerslake died at the age of 82 at his home on April 2, following a week away in Cumberland revisiting the places where he courted his wife.

He leaves behind his sons, grandchildren Lucy, Holly, Ellen, Anna, and sister Brenda. 

His funeral will take place at St. Remigius Church, Hethersett, on Monday, May 30, at 2pm.

Donations to benefit the Friends of Little Melton Church Trust and Priscilla Bacon Lodge Support Group via or c/o Ivan Fisher Independent Funeral Home, Norton House, 17 Park Drive, Hethersett, Norwich, NR9 3EN.