Tributes to popular former Norwich bicycle shop owner

Ray Freeman (left) and Richard Freeman in the shop

Ray Freeman (left) and Richard Freeman in the shop - Credit: Archant

Tributes have today been paid to a well known and much-loved former Norwich bicycle shop owner who was involved in the family business for more than 50 years.

Ray Freeman, 83, who lived with his wife, Mary, 81, on Dereham Road, Norwich, died earlier this month as a result of heart failure.

He opened the shop, called Ray Freeman, in Heigham Street in 1958, and was still building bicycle wheels for his son, Richard, who now runs the business with his daughter Laura, 26, until just six months ago.

The father of three and grandfather of six has been described as a 'charmer' and a 'character' who 'could turn his hand to anything and try to repair it' by Richard, who lives with his wife, Joy, in Horsford. They took over the running of the shop in 1991.

Richard, 60, said: 'We've lost an engineer from the old part of the cycle trade. He could knock a wheel up in a few minutes and was doing them at home until about six months ago. He knew all types of people. He will be missed.'

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Ray, who previously worked for Laurence, Scott and Electromotors and Busseys, was married for 61 years to his wife, whose grandfather had a bicycle shop in St Benedict's Street which first opened in 1896.

His 31-year-old grandson, Matt, who has been involved in the online business launched in 2006, said he was 'just a massive character' and a 'fantastic people person' as well as a 'bit of a practical joker'.

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Matt said he remembered, when he was a youngster, working in the shop with his grandfather who seemed to 'know everyone' and was someone who 'when he walked into a room he just owned the room'.

He also remembers how his grandfather fondly recalled Christmases when he would have 'racks full of bikes' in the run up to Christmas but would 'sell a shop full of bikes in a day'.

Ray was also a captain in the army cadets, where he was involved in branches at Costessey, Taverham and West Earham, and was in the TA.

A funeral service will take place at St Edmunds Church, Costessey, on June 16 at 10.15am.

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