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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Ex-PM Major's elder brother dies
Terry Major-Ball
Terry Major-Ball was well-liked and proud of his family
Former prime minister Sir John Major's elder brother, Terry Major-Ball, has died at the age of 75.

He died from cancer on 13 March in a hospice in Chard, Somerset, Sir John's office has confirmed.

A banker by trade, Mr Major-Ball became renowned for his garden gnomes and was a popular personality during his brother's Downing Street tenure.

He is survived by his widow, Shirley, whom he married 46 years ago, and two children.

Mr Major-Ball, who moved with his family to Somerset from Croydon, south London, about three years ago, was recognised as discreet and loyal to his brother.

He was one of the few who knew of Sir John's affair with former-Conservative MP Edwina Currie, but never told anyone.

Mr Major-Ball was also proud of his family's roots in theatre and the circus.

When the Majors had been criticised for their "greyness", he said: "Why do you expect me and my brother to be grey men when both our parents were professional stand-up comedians?"

My brother was the kindest and most generous-hearted of men
Sir John Major

He was a popular figure because of his well-known modesty and was adept at giving the sort down-to-earth homespun wisdom associated with Sir John.

He later began writing and his most notable written work was Major Major, Memories Of An Elder Brother, in 1998, published a few months after his brother's defeat in the previous year's general election.

He was not a great traveller, and said he had been overseas only once, to Germany, in order to do his National Service.

Sir John said : "My brother was the kindest and most generous-hearted of men. He saw the best in everyone and the worst in no-one.

"He leaves an irreparable gap in our family."

After Mr Major-Ball's death, there was a private funeral which was attended by Sir John and Lady Major.


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