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‘Trigger? He was so much more than that’ - family and friends speak on ‘local hero’ Roger Lloyd-Pack

11:00 23 January 2014

Roger Lloyd-Pack at Keats House in Hampstead. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Roger Lloyd-Pack at Keats House in Hampstead. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton

Tributes have poured in from across Camden and the world of entertainment following the death of comedy legend and “local hero” Roger Lloyd-Pack, who has been remembered locally for his campaigning spirit of justice and equality.

The celebrated actor, best-known for playing dopey road sweeper Trigger in the TV sitcom Only Fools and Horses, died at his home in Kentish Town in the early hours of Thursday last week after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 69.

Born into an acting family in Islington, Lloyd-Pack became an acclaimed performer on stage and appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including a regular role as farmer Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley.

However, as tributes continued to flood in from fellow actors from around the world this week, neighbours, friends and family remembered Lloyd-Pack most for his activism.

“He had a profound feeling of solidarity with people on both an international and local level,” said wife Jehane Markham.

“He felt compelled to do what he felt was right – whether it was promoting human rights, championing the rights of working people or undoing some of the ‘greed is good’ mentality promoted during the Thatcher years.

“And I think people in the local community saw him as someone who could help when they needed it.”

From giving rallying speeches to stop parts of the Whittington Hospital in Archway being sold off last March, to becoming a patron of the under-threat Highgate Library, he was well-known by campaign groups.

Shirley Franklin, chair of the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition, remembered the “invaluable influence” he had.

“He was such a moving speaker and always spoke with great passion, really rallying everyone,” she said.

“I remember once introducing him on the stage during a rally as ‘Trigger’ and he looked at me and said ‘I’m a bit more than that’.

“And he was totally right – what was always striking to me was how knowledgeable he was about the campaigns he fought.

“He was so important to us – we’ll miss him terribly.”

Apart from campaigning for the local library, the local hospital and giving free Shakespearean acting classes to youngsters at local schools, Lloyd-Pack will also be remembered for his love of life.

In traits often associated with his portrayal of road sweeper Trigger, Ms Markham said her husband had a “cheeky side”.

“He loved pulling a fast one and he gained a bit of a reputation as a chancer,” she said.

“His acting friends used to call him ‘Rodger the Dodger’ as he loved getting away with things.

“I remember when he took the kids to Disneyland Paris.

“He found a hole in the fence and jumped on the opportunity to get away with not paying, sending the children through.

“He loved the little things in life.”

As a lifelong Tottenham Hotspur supporter, fellow Spurs fans filled the stadium during their match against Swansea on Sunday with chants including “Stand up for Trigger, he’s one of our own” and “Trigger – he only had one broom” (the latter a reference to his character’s 20-year-old broom that was said to have had 17 new heads and 14 new handles).

While developing a strong dislike for having to endure shouts of “Oi, Trigger!” from members of the public in the street, neighbours of the acting legend responded in droves to highlight the “kindness”, “warmth” and the “community hero” behind the characters.

“It’s the street party his son started that I’ll remember him most for,” said 43-year-old neighbour Ben Slotover.

“They were started in 2000 and since then he had been instrumental in making them a success. He really brought the community together.

“People saw the celebrity side, but we all saw the neighbourly side – kind, caring – he was a fantastic man. Even if he had been ‘just a road sweeper’, like his character Trigger, we would remember him all the same.”

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