Anthony Michael Aldiss

To football fans he was known as Mister Chairman. To friends and family he was larger than life, jocular and outgoing, lavishing his generosity on those he wanted to serve.

To football fans he was known as Mister Chairman. To friends and family he was larger than life, jocular and outgoing, lavishing his generosity on those he wanted to serve.

And to generations of people he was the man behind two well-known and long-established businesses.

Anthony Michael Aldiss - who has died aged 81 - is a well-known name in Dereham, not only for the businesses he took over from his father and ran successfully over more than 50 years, but also for his passion for football which inspired the town's players.

Born in Dereham in 1925, in a family of three, and educated at Hunstanton and then at Haileybury School near London, he volunteered for service in the Royal Navy in the second world war and went to the South Pacific aboard HMS Victorious,


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After the war, Tony, as he was fondly known in town, returned to Britain, and went to train with department store Bentalls in Kingston, in preparation for joining the family business.

Shortly after the death of his father, Harry Gordon, in 1949, Tony took over the family businesses - Aldiss department store and HH Aldiss funeral directors.

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He touched the lives of many countless families who received his support at times of grief and bereavement.

His daughter Diana Neville-Smith paid tribute to him, saying her father had received thousands of letters of appreciation from families in Dereham and the surrounding area, during

his career spanning more than 55 years.

In earlier years, Tony was regularly to be found propping up the bar at the Conservative Club and other Dereham watering holes.

As a town councillor, he gave time to promoting local and charitable causes, being most reliable in providing generous raffles or tombola prizes.

Tony is also well known for his support and commitment to the local football club whose ground was named after him, as a mark of appreciation to him and his forbears.

During his time as chairman of the club from 1982-1998, he and the committee were instrumental in the planning, fundraising and development of a new park and leisure facility. After 1998 he became president of the club for the remainder of his life.

“He was definitely a figurehead for all those who knew him,” said Simon Barnes, chairman of Dereham Town.

“We all knew him as Mister Chairman and even after he became president we still called him Mister Chairman. I think that should be his epitaph.”

A countryman at heart, he enjoyed spending his weekends fishing, shooting or playing and supporting Brisley Cricket Club.

Following a period of declining health after he retired in his 70s, Tony died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on July 10.

He is survived by his wife, Grace, daughter Elaine and Diana and Richard - his children from a previous marriage - and seven grandchildren.

His funeral will take place at St Nicholas' Church in Dereham on Monday, at 2pm to be followed by burial at Dereham Cemetery.

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