Alan Willgrass

Businessman and well-known charity stalwart Alan Willgrass has died at the age of 75 following a year-long battle with cancer.

Businessman and well-known charity stalwart Alan Willgrass has died at the age of 75 following a year-long battle with cancer.

Mr Willgrass, who set up an insurance company with his son Nigel, was known throughout the Dereham community and beyond for his work with the Rotary and Round Table clubs.

He was chairman of Dereham Round Table and president of the town's Rotary group as well as a member of the 41 Club.

The former Eaton CNS pupil was born in Ilford, Essex, but moved to Norfolk with his adoptive parents at three months old.


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He started as a clerk at Norwich Union at the age of 16 where he met his wife Brenda, who was a typist for the company. Apart from a two-year spell doing National Service, he stayed at the company for 24 years, becoming an inspector in Norwich and then Dereham.

In 1971, he moved to Hedley Mitchell insurance in Dereham, taking it over later with Nigel when it became known as Hedley Willgrass.

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Mrs Willgrass, to whom he had been married for 52 years, said: “He was a really gorgeous person and he never said anything nasty about anybody and could only see the nice side of people.

“He was such a loveable character who doted on his children and grandchildren.”

Mr Willgrass, who latterly became involved in the Louise Willgrass Tsunami Fund, which was set up for his daughter-in-law who was tragically killed in the Asian disaster, leaves behind four children and nine grandchildren.

A private family cremation will be followed by a service of thanksgiving at St Nicholas Church, Dereham, on Friday at 3pm.

Donations for Cancer Research UK or the World Wildlife Fund can be sent c/o Peter Taylor Funeral Services, 85, Unthank Road, Norwich, NR2 2PE.

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