‘We are all very proud of him’ - Tributes to Norfolk haulage king Jack Richards, who has died aged 90

Jack Richards with a certificate he received from the Royal British Legion earlier this year. Jack Richards with a certificate he received from the Royal British Legion earlier this year.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
8:19 AM

Tributes have been paid to one of Norfolk’s best-known businessmen who came to Fakenham 43 years ago with five vehicles and went on to run a multi-million pound road transport company.

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One of the Jack Richards and Sons lorries.One of the Jack Richards and Sons lorries.

Jack Richards, owner of Jack Richards and Son, died, aged 90, following a period of ill health at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, on Monday.

The national company now employs 370 people and owns 225 yellow lorries which are instantly recognisable on roads throughout Britain.

Mr Richards was also well-known for his support for the Royal British Legion, of which he was a member for 68 years.

He was president of the Fakenham and District branch of the Legion for five years and was presented with two certificates in February when he stood down from the role.

His career

Jack Richards started his career in transport at the age of 13 when he delivered orders for Home and Colonial, Coalville on a bicycle.

He moved to Cambridgeshire and established Jack Richards and Son at Haddenham, near Ely, in 1956.

Mr Richards moved to Fakenham in 1971 with five vehicles and the business now has a fleet of 225 lorries.

The company now has a turnover of £35m and his distinctive yellow lorries are seen all over the country.

Mr Richards employed 370 people, more than 200 of which were based in Fakenham.

The company also has bases in Norwich, Northwich, Cheshire, Mold, North Wales, March, Wisbech and Newmarket.

The business provides road haulage services around the UK, palletised-load distribution across Europe and the UK as well as localised warehousing and storage.

Customers range from the largest multi-national companies to medium-sized enterprises.

Mr Richards’ son, Anthony, 56, is the company chairman and his granddaughter Lisa Richards, 31, joined the business 18 months ago.

Mr Richards, a former RAF serviceman who fitted engines for the 75 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force, at RAF Mepal, near Ely, opened a museum of vintage British haulage vehicles which have been used by Jack Richards and Son over the years, at Fakenham Industrial Estate in 2010.

He was president of the Fakenham Town Band and was known by friends for his generous and unassuming nature.

Mr Richards’ family put much of his success down to simple hard work.

His wife, Gladys Richards, said: “He worked very hard and did long hours and just worked his way up.”

She added, with a wry smile: “A lot is down to having a good wife as well.

“We are all very proud of him everything he has achieved.

“Everybody spoke very highly of Jack and we will miss him dearly.”

The business is continuing in the family name.

Mr Richards’ son, Anthony, 56, is the company chairman and his granddaughter Lisa Richards, 31, joined the business 18 months ago.

Anthony Richards said: “Dad never really retired. He was going in to work every day until about a year ago.

“He obviously didn’t need to work but was very passionate about the business and seeing it continue to do well.

“He was an incredibly determined man and when he was diagnosed with liver cancer nearly a year ago, he refused to accept it.

“He kept setting targets; firstly to lay a wreath at the war memorial at Mepal at Armistice Day, which he did; then to reach 90, which he did on January 3 and his last goal was to put up a greenhouse in his garden, which he never quite managed, but it just showed the character of the man and that has helped him to become so successful.”

Mr Richards was originally from Coleorton, Leicestershire.

He started his career in transport at the age of 13 when he delivered orders for Home and Colonial in Coalville, on a bicycle.

He moved to Cambridgeshire and established Jack Richards and Son at Haddenham, near Ely, in 1956, then moved to Fakenham in 1971 with five vehicles. The business now has a fleet of 225 lorries.

Mr Richards was often seen with his “right hand man”, friend and museum curator Denny Harvey.

Oliver Mitchell, general manager at Jack Richards and Son, said: “Jack was a good businessman who knew and understood his market and realised opportunities to grow his company.

“The company had become known throughout the country and his distinctive yellow lorries are often seen driving up and down the roads.”

Mr Richards employed 370 people, more than 200 of them based in Fakenham.

Mr Mitchell said: “The fact that he kept hold of the vast majority of his workforce shows that he was a good man to work for.”

The company also has bases in Norwich, Northwich, Cheshire, Mold, north Wales, March, Wisbech and Newmarket.

Anthony Richards said: “We aim to keep working hard and ensuring the business successful as that’s what dad would have wanted.”

Do you wish to pay tribute to Mr Richards? E mail adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk

Tributes to Jack Richards

“Jack helped to put Fakenham on the map as an industrial north Norfolk market town.

“Wherever you were in the country you’d see his yellow lorries and think of Fakenham and Norfolk.

“Jack Richards and Fakenham go hand in hand.

“His lorries always look immaculate and that shows the high standards he had.

“He had a reputation for high quality which brought positive attention to Fakenham and Norfolk. “This is a sad loss.”

Fakenham mayor Adrian Vertigan

“He’s been coming in here for 30 years and he was a lovely, lovely man.

“He was one of the best in every way.

“He loved a good chat and I’d often go home late when Jack came in because we’d always ended up talking for so long.

“Nobody has a bad word to say about Jack Richards.”

Nigel Benbow, manager of Benbow’s fruit and veg shop in Fakenham

“In 1970, I was delivering steel to Mr Richards’ yard in Haddenham.

“He came out and helped me unload and was very polite.

“You don’t often get people who help you like that these days and that incident still stands out to me after all these years.”

Roger Wilmot, 66, from Weeting

“If the band needed any help, he would be there for us.

“His success never went to his head and he would do anything for anybody.”

Frances Reeve, of Fakenham Town Band

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