Tributes to third-generation optician and town stalwart
- Credit: Supplied by the family
Tributes have been paid to a much-loved third-generation optician from north Norfolk.
Mike Ling - christened Ralph Michael Ling - will be best remembered for his work at the family business RM Ling Optometrists in North Walsham, and for his involvement in heritage and charity groups around the town.
Mr Ling died on January 28 at the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital aged 82, after contracting Covid-19.
A statement from his family said: “Mike has been a well known, well loved member of the North Walsham community his entire life."
Mr Ling was brought up in Norwich Road, North Walsham, and attended Millfield Road School and Paston School. He was an active member of the Scouts and took part in many of their theatrical performances, known as ‘gang shows’.
Mr Ling’s grandfather had opened a chemist optician in the building that now houses the Boots in North Walsham’s Market Place in 1906, and his father later took over the shop after training at South London pharmacy college.
After completing National Service - partly based in Singapore - Mr Ling studied to become an optician at Northampton College in London, which is now known as City, University of London.
During his studies he met his first wife, Dilys, and they married at St Nicholas Church in North Walsham. They relocated to the town 1965 and had two sons, Graham and Martin.
Mr Ling worked as an optician at his father’s pharmacy for seven years, and after he retired, Mr Ling took over and they moved the optician’s practice to Grammar School Road.
The practice later moved to New Road, and it is now run by Martin Ling - the fourth generation of family opticians - and business partner Deborah Daplyn.
After retiring Mr and Mrs Ling spent their time travelling, catching up with old friends and having fun with their growing family. But sadly their time together was cut short when Mrs Ling died in 2012 after a battle with cancer.
Determined to continue fulfilling their travel dreams, Mr Ling met his second wife, Brenda, a retired teacher living in Aberdeen but originally from Suffolk, in Turkey in 2014. They married in 2016 and travelled together until Mr Ling’s deteriorating health forced him to slow down.
Mr Ling was an integral member of the North Walsham Round Table, 41 Club, and Rotary.
He was also a founder member of North Walsham and District Community Archive when it was started in 2007.
Wayne Beauchamp, who took over from him as chairman years later, said: “His passion for everything historical in the area has inspired many and laid the foundations for many of the local heritage organisations and facilities we currently enjoy.
“He had a passion for all things ocular and boasted an impressive collection of ocular artifacts as well as a large collection of miniature crested North Walsham china of which he was rightfully very proud.”
Mr Ling’s extensive collection of historical photos, postcards and other items are now a key part of the North Walsham Archive.
As well as Brenda and his sons, Mr Ling is survived by grandchildren Rachel, Harry, Lewis, Alexander and Benjamin.
Although his funeral will be private, Mr Ling’s family are planning a public celebration and thanksgiving for some time in the future, after the current restrictions are lifted.