Does Stephen Fry owe his quiz master skills to a spell on a Norwich shop floor?
08:00 09 May 2014
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He is famous for holding the ring while some of the sharpest comics brains compete on his quiz show, but does Stephen Fry owe the patience, tact and humour he uses to guide QI to his time on a Norwich shopfloor?
The media polymath has revealed his fondest memories of working at Bonds department store in a private letter that will be shared with the 550 staff who work at its successor store, John Lewis.
The QI quiz show host worked for Bonds in the 1970’s, in Kitchenware, Furniture and Dispatch.
He said: “I owe a lot to my time at Bonds”, and added “I can never pass what is now John Lewis without my memories returning to me.”
Mr Fry had been a student at City College Norwich, and recently sent his 6 million Twitter followers a message supporting staff taking part in a three peaks challenge.
His letter to staff came after John Lewis Norwich, which is currently celebrating the 150th anniversary of the national company, wrote to him asking if he had any memories of his time working there. They were pleasantly surprised when he took the time to write back.
He is not the only person with memorable connections to the Norwich store.
For Christine Chettleburgh, the store is almost part of the family.
Her father Dougie Hughes joined Bonds in 1954 at the age of 35 as a porter and in 1959 he became the security officer for Bonds, with the new role he and his family moved into Surrey Cottage, the on-site live-in quarters.
Her mother Joyce Hughes joined Bonds in 1961 and worked in the staff canteen - she was famous for making sausage rolls and scones - and both Mr and Mrs Hughes retired in 1984 and left Surrey Cottage after 25 happy years there
Christine started at Bonds in 1961 as a 15 year old Saturday girl, working in the Separates department, and after a 20-year gap she joined John Lewis Norwich in 1983, two weeks after Bonds had been taken over by John Lewis.
Her grandson Alex Kearns, 17, now works at John Lewis Norwich as a Saturday sales assistant in IT
Do you have any special memories of John Lewis or Bonds? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.