May 19 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Warm tributes have been paid to one of Fakenham and Whissonsett’s most well-known characters who died after collapsing at Carrow Road, home of his beloved Norwich City Football Club.
Geoffrey Riches, a season ticket holder at Norwich for more than 60 years, collapsed on his way out of the stadium moments after the final whistle of the Canaries’ 0-0 draw with Southampton in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.
He died of a heart condition the following day at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, aged 86.
Friend Dawn Humphrey, who has known Mr Riches all her life and was with him at the hospital, said she recalls how he once said he would be happy to die at Carrow Road.
She said: “Norwich City was a big part of Geoffrey’s life. He absolutely loved the club.
“He had a heart scare 18 months ago and recovered but he lived his life to the full right up until he died.
“He actually said to me once, ‘if I go at Carrow Road, I’d be pretty happy with that.’”
Mrs Humphrey added: “Geoffrey had a heart attack at a match at Carrow Road in the 1980s and when he came around the first thing he asked was, ‘what was the final score?’ He was Norwich City mad.”
Mr Riches grew up in Whissonsett and also lived in Dereham, Norwich and Fakenham.
He worked as branch manager of the Midland Bank in all three locations.
He spent most of his time in Fakenham, where he continued to live after he retired 1983.
Friends say he was very well- known in the area through his work, his many sporting connections and his sociable nature.
Long-term friend Johnny Wright said: “Geoffrey was a true gentleman and he loved spending time with people.
“He had a lovely even temperament and he was extremely generous. He did so much for Fakenham and Whissonsett.
“He was just an exceptional man who never had a bad word to say about anyone and he will be sadly missed by his many friends. He was loved by everyone who met him.”
Mr Riches went to school in Whissonsett, then Fakenham Grammar School.
When he left school he worked for Midland Bank in Dereham, before serving in the Army at the end of the second world war.
He then married Connie Frary, from Walsingham and continued his work for the bank.
They lived in Norwich and Dereham before settling in Fakenham.
Mr Riches played cricket and outdoor bowls for Whissonsett and was treasurer of the bowls club for many years.
He also played bowls at Gallow Indoor Bowls Club in Fakenham. He was treasurer at the club from the day it opened until the day he died, a total of 41 years.
Mr Riches was still bowling regularly at the end of his life and he played just days before he died.
He was also a big supporter of Fakenham Cricket Club, Norfolk County Cricket Club and Fakenham Racecourse.
After he retired, Mr Riches enjoyed holidaying to Guernsey with Connie.
She died 11 years ago and he has lived alone in Fakenham since then.
Mr Riches was also a lover of theatre and was a patron at Norwich Theatre Royal.
He sold tickets for the Thursford Christmas Spectacular and often took friends to see the show.
Mr Riches did not have any children but had relatives scattered around the country and in Canada with whom he kept in contact.
Mrs Humphrey said: “Geoffrey was a very genuine and generous man and was loyal to all of his many friends who will miss him dearly.
“Everybody loved Geoffrey and he was held him in very high esteem by all who met him.”
All are welcome to attend Mr Riches’ funeral which will be at Mintlyn Crematorium, King’s Lynn, on March 27 at 1pm.
There will also be a memorial service at Whissonsett church on March 30 at 11am.
Donations will be taken for Guide Dogs For the Blind at both events.
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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