Jay Fewtrell, who helped set up the York Proms event with his wife Rebecca Newman, has died suddenly at his home in the city.
Rebecca, known as the people’s soprano after numerous performances in the city centre, announced that he had passed away on Tuesday night (5 August).
He was 38. The couple have one son, Logan, aged three.
Rebecca described him as her “fierce, generous, awesome hubby who left this world way too early but definitely made his mark.
“He left my life as suddenly as he entered it ten years ago and I’ll always be grateful that fate bought us together.”
She also offered her appreciation to the paramedics. “Thank you so much to the amazing emergency responders who came out, especially under the circumstances with having to suit up and wear masks.”
I know no one knows what to say in a situation like this and I’m not expecting anyone to know what to say or do, but please raise a glass for Jay.
The news has stunned friends and former colleagues in York.
Jay, who was orginally from Birmingham, was know for his wide smile and sense of fun.
Everyone who met him was touched by his kindness and he was fiercely supportive of his wife who is well-known in and out of York.
She scored a number one classical album in 2014 after a decade in the music industry, which started out with her busking around the city streets.
She has subsequently toured with big names like Russell Watson and appeared on national TV and radio. A video of a cover version of the Holidays Are Coming song filmed at the Derwent Light Railway has been a huge YouTube hit.
Launched York Proms
Together she and Jay set up the hugely successful York Proms, a mix of music, flag waving, picnics and fireworks in the Museum Gardens.
The first event was a sell-out but this year it had to be postponed because of the covid pandemic.
In 2016 Jay Fewtrell told Minster FM why he was so keen to get the event started.
“We have never been people who sit and wait for things to happen, so we decided to take on the challenge to launch the York Proms ourselves,” he said.
“After looking at potential venues for some time we are really pleased to go into partnership with the York Museum Trust to secure such a beautiful, central setting in York, which will make for a truly magical event.”
‘A big heart’
The news of Jay passing away prompted tributes on Facebook.
“He was a great bloke with a big heart” said one friend.
Another wrote: “I love that man. Always wanted to be like him. Infectious smile, great loving man.”
“I only met Jay on one occasion but he made me feel that I knew him a long time,” a third person wrote.
“He was definitely a very special man who doted on you and Logan. He was obviously very proud of you both.”
Please hug those you love just that little bit tighter tonight.
I know Logan and I will get through this awful time together with the help of our wonderful friends and family, and never stop loving him.
She has thanked everyone for the messages of sympathy and says she is being supported by friends and family.