Tribute paid to 'good old boy' who launched business with £17

Graham Thompson

Graham Thompson - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

The wife of a successful auto businessman who started out with just £17 in his pocket ahead of opening three garages has paid tribute to her "good old boy”. 

Freddie Thompson, 75, of Thorpe End, near Norwich, described her husband, Graham, as a hard-working “character” who always helped others. 

The couple, who married 14 years ago, had been together for more than 30 years after meeting when Mrs Thompson was the manager of the Blue Boar pub in Sprowston. Mr Thompson had opened his first garage next door. 

Graham Thompson

Graham Thompson - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

She said: “He was quite a character. His passing has affected many people in Norwich. 

“He was such a kind, genuine person and was an all-round good old boy.” 

Born Graham Philip Thompson on February 26, 1947, in Norwich, he was affectionately known as “GT” by those closest to him. 

He was incredibly proud when he passed his driving test first time on his 17th birthday, and subsequently went on to complete an apprenticeship at Busseys Ford in the city. 

Graham Thompson

Graham Thompson - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

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Eventually, with just £17 in his pocket, he went into business on his own. He first began working in a double lock-up garage in Costessey before opening Blue Boar Garage in Sprowston. He went on to open two others, one more in the city and another in Lowestoft. 

Mrs Thompson added: “He did it all through hard work.” 

Mr Thompson first hit headlines back in 2020 when he revealed how he almost opened a pub with Norwich City Football Club (NCFC) legend – and the club’s only World Cup winner – Martin Peters. 

Graham Thompson, with a programme from the day Norwich City took on England's 1966 squad. Picture: D

Graham Thompson, with a programme from the day Norwich City took on England's 1966 squad. Picture: David Hannant - Credit: Archant

A close friend of the Canaries midfielder, Mr Thompson explained that when Mr Peters moved in just a few doors away they soon became friends. Mr Thompson served as the 1966 World Cup winner's sponsor and the business relationship soon blossomed into a long friendship. He put cars up for prizes when Mr Peters was playing in 1992.  

However, the pub plans fell through after the opportunity for Mr Peters to play football in Australia derailed the plans.  

The pair's friendship saw them bond over sport, particularly football and Mr Peters developed such faith in his friend that he entrusted him with one of his most valuable possessions - his World Cup winner's medal which Mr Thompson stored at his garage. 

The pair lost touch during the latter years of Mr Peters’ life, however, Mr Thompson remained in contact with Kathleen, his widow, and attended the funeral at Brentwood Crematorium, near London, in 2020. 

Mr Thompson suffered with ill health following his first heart attack in his 40s but continued to help others when he could. After retiring at 50, he volunteered with the Royal Voluntary Service at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), serving patients food via the trolley service. 

Graham Thompson

Graham Thompson - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

He was also head of the Norfolk Olympic appeal, sponsor of the Bayern Munich game at Carrow Road, a NCFC season ticket holder and organiser of a pro versus amateur match at Sprowston Golf Club with former England squad professionals.  

He was invited to Buckingham Palace where he was commended for his fundraising efforts.  

Mrs Thompson added: “We had some wonderful years together. He protected me so much, he did all the cooking – he loved his food. He could also always fix things and he did everything for everyone, from mowing the neighbours’ lawn to house and dog sitting." 

Before moving to Thorpe End, the coupe built and lived in their dream family home in Sparham.  

Mr Thompson died suddenly with Covid at the NNUH on October 26, 2021. He was aged 74. 

He was a loving dad to Claire and son-in-law Danny, beloved grandad to Chloe and Annie, and a much-loved stepdad to Jamie.  

A celebration of his life will be held at St Faith's Crematorium on Thursday, November 25 at 11.45am. Donations are being collected for the for Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity via Allcock Family Funeral Services, Falcon House, 96a City Road, Norwich, NR1 2HD or online at allcockfunerals.co.uk 

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