Tribute to a Normandy veteran and Norwich businessman
- Credit: supplied by April Groen
A Normandy veteran and horticultural enthusiast who became a well known Norwich businessman has died aged 93.
William Henry Hutchins, a father of eight, grandfather and great grandfather, and known to everyone as Bill, died at his home in Norwich on September 2.
'He was a lovely dad and will be sadly missed by all of us,' said April Groen, one of Mr Hutchins' daughters.
'He had an amazing life that was very nearly cut short during the war.'
Mr Hutchins, who was born in Benfleet, Essex, on February 28 1924, joined the Royal Artillery in 1942 aged 18 and he was part of the Normandy Landings on D-Day in June 1944. Months later, while working as a dispatch rider on a motorbike, he was critically injured in a blast.
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Mrs Groen said: 'He was not expected to survive, the shrapnel being too deep in his brain to operate, and a telegram was sent to his parents telling them he had died in action. Incredibly he survived, and finished the war as a decoder in London.'
Mr Hutchins his met his wife, Valerie, at a de-mob dance in London, and his future bride was especially impressed with the beautiful old Citroen car he drove her home in. After a spell in Tilbury while Mr Hutchins trained in horticulture, the couple moved to Hempnall in south Norfolk in 1952 where they bought a cottage and a field and lived 'the good life,' keeping chickens, goats, rabbits and pigs. After eight years, and now with six children, they moved to Mulbarton, and in 1968 started a small printing business in their garden shed called W.H.Hutchins and Sons.
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'Dad named their house in Mulbarton 'Welterusten,' Flemish for 'Rest Well,' a phrase that clearly meant something to him from the war,' said Mrs Groen.
'Dad and mum's song was Nature Boy sung by Nat King Cole and throughout his life he loved to grow vegetables and loved being outside.'
In the 1970s the printing business moved from Welterusten to Norwich, first to Pottergate and later Vauxhall Street. Mr Hutchins retired when he was in his 50s, and in 1989 W.H.Hutchins & Sons merged with BD Studios to become BD&H Limited.
Mr Hutchins leaves behind his wife Valerie, children Kevin, David, Kim, Chris, Cheryl, Theresa, April and Fiona, 18 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Mrs Groen said: 'Dad continued to enjoy his family life and his dogs and growing tomatoes right to the end. Welterusten, Nature Boy.'