FOR many he was the embodiment of one of the Royal Navy’s greatest war heroes.
But after more than a decade playing Admiral Lord Nelson, Alex Naylor has died.
The ex-Royal Marine, of Lombard Street, Old Portsmouth, lost his battle against cancer, following a year-long fight against the disease.
Now a memorial service marking his memory is to be staged in Portsmouth – one that is expected to be attended by dozens of people.
Paying tribute to her husband, wife Finni, 60, said: ‘He was absolutely fearless.
‘He was kind, loving and helpful – he was one of those people who would help anybody who needed it.
‘Losing him has had the biggest of impacts on me.
‘Not only was he my partner, he was my best friend.
‘He was quite small in stature but he filled such a vast space in my life.
‘That space that is no longer filled by him is the size of a planet. To say I miss his presence would be the world’s greatest understatement.’
Alex was born in Essex on April 12, 1958. At 14 he moved to Pagham, studying at Bognor Regis Comprehesive.
As a boy he was passionate about Greek gods, history, politics and Russian – a language he learnt to speak fluently.
He had been accepted into Oxford University but decided to become an officer in the Royal Marines on a short commission contract.
After leaving the Marines, he joined a Russian and Soviet studies course at Portsmouth Polytechnic, eventually adding a PhD from Exeter University to his list of achievements.
His studies took him to the heart of Russia during the Cold War, where he studied advanced Russian and Soviet history in St Petersburg.
While in the country, he mixed with British diplomats and members of the Russian security services, the KGB during embassy parties.
In 2001 a new chapter of his life began. While dressed as his hero Lord Nelson, he was spotted by TV producers.
This led to him being featured on a number of TV programmes over the years.
He played Nelson throughout the 2005 commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, meeting most of the royal family.
A spokeswoman for the National Museum of the Royal Navy was saddened by the news of Alex’s death.
She said: ‘He came to embody Nelson that year. He because such a popular character. He’ll be sorely missed.’
Alex was diagnosed with cancer last year, dying on January 18.
Before his death, he married Finni at the Square Tower on April 24. She described it as ‘the happiest day’ of their lives.
Alex’s memorial is at 2pm on Friday, March 23, at St Mary’s Church, in Fratton.