HUNDREDS of people turned out yesterday to pay their final respects to one of Britain's most sought after jazz musicians who hailed from Newport.

Norman Thatcher, of Bath Road, touched the hearts of thousands across the world with his musical ability- playing the cornet, trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, double bass and drums professionally.

Before the service, members of his New Orleans Band led a short musical procession to Gwent Crematorium in front of around 300 people.

Many, who travelled from as far away as Penzance and the north of England, had to stand at the back as they heard touching tributes to the self-taught musician, best known for performing with his bands Norman Thatcher's Rag Time Band, New Orleans Hula and leading the Ken Colyer Trust band for ten years.

Some had followed the 69-year-old to gigs across the world, including one couple who told the Argus afterwards they have 200 of his recorded performances at home.

Gill Fortescue led the service and read out Mr Thatcher's life story he put together after being diagnosed with cancer in 2008.

He made a full recovery, living life to the full until sadly suffering a heart attack while on holiday in Turkey on April 17.

Ms Fortescue told the congregation at the time of his diagnosis, he was not one to dwell on his problems.

She said at one stage he needed an urgent blood transfusion, but decided he would have it after he had taken part in a fundraising concert for Cancer Research.

Mourners sang 'How Great Thou Art', before Mr Thatcher's son Mark, niece Liz and friend, musician John Minnion, gave their tributes.

He said Mr Thatcher was "the most loyal, kind and reliable of friends," inspiring and guiding musicians across the world.

Niece Liz described him as an "absolute legend," while his wife Sarah's tribute, read on her behalf, said he was "amazing". "He was one in a million and I loved him so much," she said.

Recordings of Mr Thatcher's recitals were played, including Love Song of the Nile and The Old Spinning Wheel in the Parlour, before his family and friends exited to Good Night Sweetheart by Al Bowlly.

They applauded as the New Orleans parade band, made up of some of Mr Thatcher's closest friends, gave a final farewell to the grandfather-of-two outside.

Jazz player was a natural talent

MR THATCHER'S love for music began in earnest aged ten, when he persuaded his father to bring him a cornet and taught himself to play.

Born in Wotton-Under-Edge, Gloucestershire, he grew up in Corsham, Wiltshire and joined its brass band as a snare drummer.

Obsessed with music, he decided he wanted to play New Orleans Jazz after hearing Ken Colyer's Jazzmen at the Pavillion in Bath, a musician he would later perform with.

He trained as a student psychiatric nurse in Devizes, Wiltshire, showcasing his talents at patient's dances.

He later become a mental welfare officer, before progressing to psychiatric roles in social services and moved to South Wales in 1996.

Mr Thatcher took early retirement from his role as a social worker aged 55 to concentrate on his passion for music.

This month he would have performed at Keswick jazz festival."He could listen to records and play it back from ear. He had a natural raw talent and was passionate about traditional jazz," his wife Sarah added.