Former Thorpe St Andrew landlady dies aged 96

Readers of a certain age will remember Beryl Firman, who has sadly died aged 96, as the former landlady at the Red Lion in Thorpe St Andrew.

She ran the pub in Yarmouth Road, which is now a restaurant, with husband Geoff for about 20 years after the Second World War, before moving to a bungalow in north Thorpe. Her parents Herbert and Ethel Blyth ran the pub for several decades before they took it over.

Mrs Firman later became a founder member of the Evergreen Choir, travelling from Norwich to entertain groups of elderly people.

She continued this into her late 80s when the choir had to disband due to so many deaths among its members.

She died on January 30 at the Countess of Chester Hospital, after being treated for heart failure. Up until Christmas she had lived in Thorpe St Andrew, before moving to Chester to be nearer her son Andrew Firman, a retired head teacher.

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Mr Firman said: 'Until recently, she also worked hard to maintain her flower garden which she enjoyed throughout the year.

'I'm very proud of my mother, she was a wonderful lady, but I know she could not have managed at home so long without the great support of her neighbour and very good friend Valerie Atthowe.

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'Her decision, just before Christmas, that she wanted to move to Chester, where I live, was a difficult call after so long in Thorpe.

'I am only sorry she was not well enough to enjoy her short time away from Norfolk. We will all miss her very much. It is the right thing to bring her home for her funeral.'

Her husband died in 1982 and Mrs Firman, at a mere 67, joined various senior citizens clubs.

Her son said that she stayed active, going out for short walks until very recently, when her good friend Brenda died.

However, she was prone to falls and like many older people had to have a hip replacement two years ago and her first general anaesthetic in 95 years.

In the 1940s, her husband had been a prisoner of war in Japan for more than three years, and for much of that time he was declared missing, before the Red Cross informed Mrs Firman in late 1943 that he was alive.

But she only discovered his diary of those times, some written on thin toilet paper, four years after his death.

She set about collecting and organising his notes and photographs and compiled a record of those terrible years about which he had been so reluctant to speak.

An avid reader, she was much supported by kind volunteers who kept her well supplied with books from the county library.

She had enjoyed travelling in retirement with her husband and made other trips with her son to Holland and Portugal as well as bravely walking the Lake District fells aged 82.

A funeral service at Earlham Crematorium, on Wednesday, February 15 at 4.30pm, will be a celebration of her life. The family are requesting no flowers, but would welcome donations to British Red Cross by calling 0845 054 7205 and quoting ref: no 7149249 or at

Would you like to pay tribute to a loved one in the Evening News? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email

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