Tributes paid to popular Wymondham pub entertainer who has died aged 92

Ken Gardiner during his time in the navy.

Ken Gardiner during his time in the navy. - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a well-loved Wymondham pub entertainer, who died at his home last week aged 92.

Ken Gardiner spent decades entertaining at pubs around the town, including the Queen's Head and Windmill, where audiences flocked to see him and fellow musicians Kenny Percival and Eddie Ellwood perform.

His New Year and Christmas performances were a highlight in the town's social calendar.

His son, Andy Gardiner, said: 'Without doubt the old man was a character remembered by an awful lot of people. He always said he wanted no one to cry for him when he was dead as he had a great life and lived every single minute of it.'

Born in Barry Island, South Wales, Ken left the country when he was just six to move to Sri Lanka with parents Harold and May.

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With his father working in the railway industry, he travelled around Sri Lanka and India before returning to Norfolk with his mother in the 1930s, where he attended Thetford Grammar School.

During the Second World War Ken - who was known in Wymondham for sporting his trademark trilby - served in the Royal Navy with the rank of Petty Officer.

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After being posted to India, he ventured across the country for a reunion with his father, a captain in the Indian home guard.

After Indian independence in 1947, the family returned to Wymondham, where Ken became a mechanic with Beeline Taxis in Norwich.

A varied career saw him work as a driver on Moys Coal Cart in Wymondham during the 1960s, in the paint and fettling shops at Lotus Cars during the 1970s and behind the bar at the ex-servicemen's club in Wymondham during the 1980s.

In 1985 he lost his wife of 31 years Joan, something which Mr Gardiner said 'was to forever change him'.

The talented darts player - who won the Norfolk Whitbread Singles in 1960 - leaves behind sons Ken and Andy, their partners Sue and Alex, grandchildren Emma and Lee and great-grandchildren Pixie, Fia and Isabelle.

Mr Gardiner described his father as 'totally unconventional, always speaking his mind' and said that he 'never ever dwelled on the good old days'.

'It was here and now where he lived and he was going to make the most of every day with the fantastic sense of humour and fun he retained to the very end. He had a fantastic life and I was proud he was our old man,' he said.

His funeral service will be held at Earlham Crematorium on Tuesday, December 30 at 9.45am. There will be a reception at Wymondham Town Football Club.

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