Olive Wass - a Cromer hotelier who loved to serve the town

Olive Wass, who has died aged 75, was one of Cromer's best-known personalities, and someone who always put others first.

She spent 45 years running Cambridge House, a seafront guest house overlooking Cromer Pier, and was one of the driving forces behind the North Norfolk Hotel and Guest House Association.

But many will remember seeing her out and about, planting bulbs and sprucing up the town with her Cromer in Bloom colleagues.

Mrs Wass was born and initially raised in Colkirk, near Fakenham, the daughter of Tom and Monica Bolton. He was later to become a leading personality in Cromer as the Cliftonville Hotel's owner.

The family moved to Cromer when Mrs Wass was still a child, to run a dairy and shop next to the Parish Hall on Church Street.

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Her father eventually took on the lease of the Red Lion Hotel and Cambridge Hotel next door, but she initially decided against the hotel trade, instead training as a nursery nurse and spending a decade caring for abandoned and neglected children in Surrey.

Having returned to Cromer to help care for her ill mother, Mrs Wass soon met her future husband, Frank, a widower, and his young son, Michael. They moved to Leicester for a few years, before returning to lease Cambridge House in the 1960s.

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By now the couple had a daughter, Liz, and Mrs Wass threw herself into the gruelling life of a seaside landlady – each day preparing breakfast, a three-course lunch, high tea for children at 5pm and evening meal for adults at 7pm.

Liz, who jointly ran Cambridge House with her mother, said: 'She loved the hotel trade. It gave her such a sense of achievement to give someone a good holiday. She thought so much of guests, and if they had a rainy stay she didn't really want to charge them.'

In the late 1970s, the situation was interrupted when Cambridge House became a boarding house for the girls of Sutherland House School in Cromer.

Mrs Wass looked after the six to 16-year-olds until they moved back into Sutherland House, and used to turn the place from boarding house to hotel each summer while the girls were with their families.

As someone who threw herself wholeheartedly into community activities, Mrs Wass was involved with Cromer in Bloom, the Ladies' Lifeboat Guild and Cromer and Sheringham Rotary Club.

Mrs Wass, whose funeral is at Cromer Parish Church next Thursday at 1.30pm, leaves stepson Michael, daughter Liz and grandson Christopher. Husband Frank died seven years ago.

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