May 20 2013 Latest news:
Monday, February 18, 2013
More than 100 mourners paid their respects to a larger-than-life Norwich chip shop owner who “treated his customers like his friends”.
Gerald West started frying fish and chips from a mobile van and went on to run two shops in the city, spending more than half a century in the trade.
He died aged 77 from lung cancer on January 29, and his funeral was held at Earlham Crematorium on Wednesday.
Mr West was well known in the city for his open and generous nature, mischievous sense of humour and willingness to help everyone, having run West’s fish and chip shop in Spencer Street for nearly 50 years and the Neptune fish bar in Earlham.
Lifelong friend Patricia Godfrey, 69, who worked for Mr West for 40 years, said he was “a people person” who did deals on a handshake and took others at their word.
“Everywhere he went he was so well liked,” she said. “He loved chatting to his customers as he cooked them their tea. He is going to be missed so much.”
Before opening his shop, Mr West was in the RAF. He married wife Olive before being posted to Christmas Island in the Pacific, where he witnessed the testing of two thermo-nuclear bombs.
They had two daughters, Rita and Jayne, and five grandchildren, but separated nearly 30 years ago.
Friends from as far as China attended Mr West’s funeral before gathering at the Brickmakers pub on Sprowston Road where a floral tribute of a Spitfire was displayed. A collection was also made for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, and Mrs Godfrey thanked everyone for their contributions.
She said: “He was just the best friend you could have, and I don’t think I’ll find another friend like him.”
She said the shop would be closed between February 21 and March 12, adding: “We promised him to keep the shop going, so the pans will remain hot and the chips will be frying on time.”
Nearly 3,000 people have supported a Facebook campaign demanding safety improvements on the A47 near Dereham set up after the latest fatal crash.
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