Tributes to Great Yarmouth market’s ‘Strawberry King’

Harry Sims with wife Betty

Harry Sims with wife Betty - Credit: Archant

A chatty market trader known for his smiling face and cheery manner has died aged 88.

Harry Sims who was well-known on Great Yarmouth market

Harry Sims who was well-known on Great Yarmouth market - Credit: Archant

Harry Sims worked on Great Yarmouth market for decades selling fresh fruit and veg, after following his dad into the family business.

The great-great-grandfather, who was born and bred in the town, served generations of customers during his time on the stall, and was well-known among shoppers earning the nickname 'Smiler' for his happy demeanour.

His son Keith, 64, who took over the stall, said: 'Anyone going to the market in the 60s to the 80s would know my dad.

'He started his own business in the early 50s and although he retired in about 1991 he used to still help me when I went on my holidays. And he would still pop up there until he couldn't anymore. He loved it, that was his life.'

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Harry attended the Nelson School and as a boy would help his dad, Harry Sims sr, on the family's fruit and veg stall.

He met his future wife, Betty, when he was 19 and she was 16 at the dance hall of the Goode's Hotel on Yarmouth seafront, but did not want to take the fledgling relationship further as he had been conscripted to the Army.

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The romance was rekindled however, after Harry returned from serving in Burma.

Keith said: 'When he came back he went to find Betty and found her at the Goode's Hotel where she went every Saturday night.'

The young couple courted before tying the knot on December 27, 1949. They lived in Coronation Road, Cobholm and later Blake Road, Yarmouth where they raised Keith and younger son Colin, 62.

Harry returned to the market, working for his cousin Albert Eagle, before setting up his own stand H Sims and Sons in the early 50s, which Betty helped run.

Keen to source the best produce for his customers, he would travel miles to buyers markets in London and Lincolnshire to get top notch fruit and veg, which he would always get for the right price.

Keith, who would travel with him, said: 'It was amazing as a youngster. He'd go to Spalding for tomatoes and vegetables and I used to have tomato sandwiches from the cafe there, and they tasted wonderful. He wouldn't go until he got a good deal, he was good at bartering.'

But it was a summer time favourite that Harry's stall became most famous for.

'He used to be known, when he got fairly busy, as the Strawberry King,' Keith added. 'One Friday he bought 320 trays from Norwich, which is a lorry load, and he sold them all in one day.

'Mum said she stood on the spot and never moved all day, she was just selling strawberries.'

Harry also welcomed some VIPs to his stall when the Queen and Prince Phillip visited Great Yarmouth in August 1985. The royal couple stopped off at his stall and were presented with flowers by his granddaughter Kerri.

In his retirement he enjoyed a spot of gardening and spending time with his family.

He died on November 1 after suffering a short illness and leaves wife Betty, 85, sons Keith and Colin, two great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

His funeral is being held on November 14 at 1.20pm at Gorleston Crematorium.

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