City celebrates its colourful gardener

Derek JamesIt was a service which was a fitting tribute to a real gentleman…who would have been amazed to think that so many people wanted to remember him.Derek James

It was a service which was a fitting tribute to a real gentleman…who would have been amazed to think that so many people wanted to remember him.

Sidney Lovewell was the gardener who rubbed shoulders with the rich and the poor, a true man of the people who always looked on the sunny side of life.

And he devoted his life to making sure that his beloved city always looked good - from small flower holders to sprawling parks and gardens, Sidney put the colour into our lives

As he was working away so many people of all ages and from all walks of life would stop, pass the time of day with smiling Sidney, and admired his handiwork.

Sidney, who had lived in the same house in Norwich for all his 82 years, loved his job with the city council parks and gardens department, and when he retired he devoted much of his time to raising money and supporting the work of the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind. Often helping them on holidays and outings.

He never married but he was the youngest of six children and he loved his relatives.

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His niece, Clarissa Clow, said: 'I know it is a strange thing to say but so many people said it was the best funeral they had ever been to.'

And she praised Gordon Barber of Norwich, especially Rachael and Graham, for making the funeral, attended by hundreds of people at St Peter Mancroft Church, so special.

Permission had been given for the horse-drawn cortege to use Brigg Street and then pause outside the closed St Stephen's Church where Sidney had worshipped and sang in the choir for more than 70 years

It then moved by Chapelfield Gardens where Sidney spent so much of his working life.

One former colleague, Martin Wilkin, got in touch to say how much he enjoyed working with Sidney over the years. 'In the early days we used to cut the grass on Castle Mound with scythes. Sidney was a great guy.'

And Brian and Marjorie Chatten added: 'He loved 'his' Norwich, his church and everybody who came into contact with him. He will be missed greatly and Norwich will be a poorer place without him.'

It's Banham, not Barnes

It was Alfie Banham - not Barnes - in my story last week about the people who spent almost half a century working at Boulton & Paul in Norwich.

Thanks to everyone who got in touch to point out the mistake in the B&P staff magazine from 1979.

His proper name was Cedric Alfred Banham, known and loved as Alfie, a popular man at the Riverside Works for 47 years.

And here he is, enjoying his retirement in Winterton with his grandson Roy and Snow the poodle.

Alfie was Norwich born and bred and lived most of his life in Sussex Street. He had two children Jane and Russell and five grandchildren.

After retiring he moved to live next door to his son butchers shop in Gloucester Street where he was often seen serving behind the counter.

Alfie died in 2001.

Did You Know?

On this day in Norfolk of 1915 the first Zeppelin raids of the First World War brought death and destruction.

The first place to be bombed was Great Yarmouth.

At St Peter's Plain Martha Taylor, aged 72, and shoemaker Samuel Smith, (55), were killed and several other people injured.

It was reported that there had been uproar in the sky, flashing lights in the clouds and sounds, like guns going off, in the main street.

Tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage were caused in the riads which shocked the town, the county and the rest o the country.

Cromer and Sheringham were also bombed along with Heacham and at King's Lynn eight bombs were dropped. Percy Goate, aged 14, was killed in his bed and Alice Gazeley, a 26-year-old widow, died as she was hit by falling rubble when she was going home after having supper with a neighbour in Bentinck Street.

On this day in 1937 the 18-year-old Margot Fonteyn made her debut in Giselle at Sadler's Wells.

On this day in 1942 the Japanese invaded Burma.

On this day in 1943 singer Janis Joplin was born in Texas. Her drink-and-drugs rock lifestyle ended in early death in 1970.

On this day in 1978 the 17th century Gapton Hall at Burgh Castle was gutted by fire.