Family pays tribute to a much-loved local character

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THE family of a man described as a ‘pillar of the Battle community’ have paid tribute to the much-loved local character who died shortly before Christmas.

Steve Overy, 65, passed away peacefully at his home in Whatlington Road, Battle, on December 13 after a short battle with cancer.

London-born Steve bought the property in 1977 and moved to Battle permanently in 1982.

He threw himself into life in the town and was an active member of several organisations, including Battle Muffin Club, the Battle Royal British Legion, Masonic Lodges both in Sussex and London and also served as a town councillor.

Daughter Katie, 31, said: “He loved Battle. This was his life.

“He was very opinionated, but only for what he thought was for the good of the town. That was all he wanted.”

Several years ago Steve led the fight against plans to downgrade Battle Fire Station alongside long-term partner Tina, whom he married in a low-key ceremony back in August.

A staunch UKIP supporter, Steve was very patriotic and the Cross of St George, which flew proudly at the end of his driveway, was lowered to half mast when he passed away.

Tina said: “He was honoured at becoming a Freeman of the City of London in 2003. He was a very proud Englishman.”

Steve’s family say he will be remembered for the way he was able to make people happy.

He and his beloved Tibetan terrier Barney regularly visited the Grosvenor House Nursing Home in St Leonards to cheer up the residents.

Tina said: “He was fantastic at organising people and making them happy, but he was a disaster at DIY. He will never be forgotten for that!

“He will be greatly missed.”

Up to 400 people packed into St Mary The Virgin Church on December 27 to pay their respects to the father-of-two.

Katie said: “A couple of cards said that he had a way of making you feel like his best friend, whether you had met him once or a few times.

“He could not do enough for anybody. He would lend you the last five pound note in his wallet; he was that sort of person.” She added: “He was an only child and Russell and I are his only children, but the amount of Father’s Day cards he got and the number of godchildren he has says a lot.”

Steve was a devoted grandfather to three-year-old Mason, who lives with 35-year-old Russell and his wife in Dubai, and is also survived by stepsons Shane, 42, and Danny, 37.

In the 1980s Steve founded Illustra Models, which makes and sells model cars all over the world, and became an authority on American cars, making a number of visits to the States.

His business partner and close friend Mike Murray will be taking over the St Leonards-based business.

Mike said: “Steve was a big personality in the model business.

“He was also a man who always had time to talk and believed in his products.

“His passing will leave a large hole in the hand-built model business and will never be adequately filled. But the legend of Illustra Models will continue in his memory.

“He was a father and a mentor to me.”

News of Steve’s death was broken to members of the Battle Royal British Legion Branch this week.

A spokesperson said: “Those that knew him spoke of his sense of humour and we now realise we have lost a potential asset to the Branch and Club.

“I’m sure there are many others in the town and at his model making works who are just as deeply affected.”

The committee passed their sympathy and condolences to Steve’s family.