Employees and family members are rallying round to complete an eye-catching overseas order as a tribute to highly-respected businessman Mark Funnell, who has died.

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Mr Funnell, owner of Hardy Marine at North Walsham, died suddenly in his office on Wednesday September 26 at the age of 49.

At the time, factory staff were 75pc through a contract for a Russian businessman, building a 62ft offshore motor cruiser.

Mr Funnell’s daughter Harriet and father Len have stepped in to manage the business, and to help shocked staff to “realise Mark’s dream” of completing the project.

The dedicated businessman, who lived at Beach Road, Wroxham, grew up in Grimsby and attended Waltham Toll Bar School.

He moved into factory work, before joining a builders’ merchant in Grimsby, where he helped to computerise the stock at all of its UK branches.

Aged 23, he moved to Norfolk to join his parents, Len and Hazel, who ran boat hire businesses.

He then ran Alan Johnson Boats at Acle before moving to Wroxham when the Funnells bought Loynes and created Faircraft Loynes.

Mr Funnell next took on another family-owned business, Brundall Bay Marina.

The Funnells also acquired Hardy Marine, and within a few years Mark Funnell became its owner.

Len Funnell said his son had transformed Hardy Marine from producing smaller cruisers to larger seagoing boats.

He said: “The boats there are some of the best in the country. They were produced to the highest specifications.”

Mark’s parents and daughter said he was a “determined man who always wanted to do things for himself”.

He built his own house and on one occasion he personally delivered a new 50ft boat to a businessman in St Petersburg in Russia.

Mr Funnell - who was also an accomplished sailor - leaves his parents, sister Ruth Knight and daughters Harriet, 21, and 17-year-old Georgina.

An open funeral service will be held on Wednesday October 10 at 4pm at St Mary’s Church, Wroxham. The family asks for casual dress, not suits.

A wake is being held at the Hotel Wroxham from 5pm. All are welcome. Donations to be made to the RNLI or flowers via Broadland Funeral Services, Wroxham, 01603 783797.

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