Dereham market stallholder dies after 41 years in the business

Tributes have been paid to a popular market trader who sold fruit and vegetables across Norfolk for more than 40 years.

Richard Sizeland's stall was a regular fixture at Dereham Market for decades, but his usual pitch stood empty this week after the local character died suddenly at the weekend.

It is thought the 62-year-old may have suffered a heart attack while enjoying a drive and he was found at Beachamwell, near Swaffham, on Saturday evening.

Mr Sizeland, who lived in Dereham all his life, traded at several markets during his 41 years as a stallholder, including those in Wells, Reepham, Brandon and Attleborough.

In a fitting tribute, his funeral will be held in Dereham on a market day and his cortege will pass through the market place on its way to the church.

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Mr Sizeland, a life-long Norwich City fan, leaves four children - Alexa, 41, Daniel, 27, and twins Edward and Oliver, 23 - his ex-wife Pauline, brother Paul and his 95-year-old mother, Agnes.

'He was very well-known - you can't stand in a town for 41 years and not get to know people,' Daniel said. 'You have got to be full of life and have a laugh with customers - you can't be shy out there.

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'My dad could be a bit of a workaholic, but I always looked up to him and we were very close. He would always go and see his mother four or five times a week and would take her fruit and vegetables.'

Daniel, who lives in Beetley, near Dereham, worked with his father on the stall for many years until he was diagnosed with leukaemia last May. He is now in remission and would like to re-establish the business in his father's honour.

'He was devastated by what happened to me last year and would always come up to the hospital to see me,' Daniel said. 'I loved the job and really missed it. Under the circumstances, I feel I should go back to it and give it another try.'

Mr Sizeland went straight into the fruit and vegetable trade on leaving school and started R Sizeland Markets when he was 21.

He often worked with his brother, Paul, and had many loyal customers and staff.

In his spare time, he loved gardening and had enjoyed holidays in Devon, Cornwall and Jersey. Mr Sizeland, a former member of Dereham Chamber of Trade, was working towards his retirement and dreamed of visiting Scandinavia and New England.

Recently, he had enjoyed days out with Daniel, his partner Steph and her son Regan, 11.

'I saw him at lunchtime on Saturday and he was his usual self, we just had a laugh,' Mr Sizeland said. 'One of my brothers saw him in town and he said he was going for a drive.'

There was concern when Mr Sizeland failed to collect Edward from work at 8.30pm that night and the police phoned at midnight to break the news.

The family are awaiting the results of a post mortem examination, but it is thought he suffered a heart attack after previously experiencing heart problems in 1995 and 2000. Police are not treating his death as suspicious.

Miles Whitehair, a partner in fruit and vegetable firm CC Wells, said he had known Mr Sizeland for 30 years and was 'absolutely gob-smacked' to hear the news on Sunday.

'There is nothing bad you can say about him,' he added. 'It was such a shock to everybody.'

David Bunning, of fresh fish stall GR Bunning and Co, added: 'Richard was a hard-working bloke who was very good at his job. I knew him for about ten years and he was very well-respected.'

Mr Sizeland, whose late father was the well-known Dereham man Charlie Sizeland, will also be missed by his current staff members Sue Gilding, Antonio Vecchio, Adam Webster and Dawn Lofty, who worked with him for 35 years.

The funeral will be held at St Nicholas Church, Dereham, at 10am on Tuesday, August 16.

Donations can be made to the RNLI Wells Lifeboat and the Colney Centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

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