Farewell Sidney, the man who brought colour to city

Derek JamesHe was a man who brought so much colour into our lives…the Norwich gardener who spent his whole life living in the same city centre house.Derek James

He was a man who brought so much colour into our lives…the Norwich gardener who spent his whole life living in the same city centre house.

'Why would I want to live anywhere else? I love my house, I love my job and I love Norwich,' Sidney Lovewell once told me.

And the people loved him, one of the great characters who devoted much time to helping others after he retired and raised more than �20,000 for the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind.

Just before Christmas, Sidney died, aged 82, after a long illness.

As his family said - his faith, strength and determination throughout this time was an inspiration to everyone who knew him.

That was the way with Sidney. He was such a quiet and modest man. A real gentleman.

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Last summer he had been to see me with a collection of photographs of the big twinning visits to Leeuwarden 60 years ago when hundreds of young sportsmen and women left for Holland, most on their first trip abroad.

Sidney had been a member of the table tennis team and recalled: 'We were treated like royalty.'

Born in Norwich during the summer of 1927, at the home where he spent his whole life, his mum was Beatrice and his dad Sidney Snr, a painter and decorator.

Sidney was the youngest of six children - four boys and two girls and they all grew up in the city centre.

Living in Norwich during the 1930s was a real adventure and their home was surrounded by shops and factories in those days - the smell of chocolate from Caleys wafted through their home.

Young Sidney loved the cinema and was a member of the Mickey Mouse Club at the old Carlton on All Saints Green - and he also remembered the terrifying air raids on the city during the war.

During one attack half the roof was blown off their house and they went to live with friends at Sprowston while it was fixed.

He spent his working life as a gardener for Norwich City Council devoting his time to making the city look as colourful as possible - spending a lot of time in Chapelfield Gardens.

The fact that Norwich has always been such a colourful city is down to the likes of Sidney and the other gardeners.

And I wonder if anyone remembers him cutting the grass on the steep Castle Mound with a lawnmower on the end of a rope? He also wore his football boots to stop him sliding down the mound.

After retiring from the council he spent a good deal of time working for the blind - from tin rattling in supermarkets to helping out on holidays -and he met both the Queen Mother and Prince Charles.

Sidney never married and said: 'That's one thing I do regret but do have lovely relatives.'

'Uncle Sidney was such a good man. Even when he was in pain at the end of his life he never complained. We will all miss him so much,' said his niece Clarissa Clow.

Funeral Details

Sidney's funeral will be quite a spectacle and special permission has been given for the horse-drawn cortege to use Gentlemen's Walk.

He had been a choirboy and a member of St Stephen's Church all his life but as it closed at the moment the service will be at St Peter Mancroft Church at 11am on Wednesday January 13.

Following the service the cortege will leave via The Walk and go to Norwich Crematorium on Earlham Road, past his beloved St Stephen's, and then by Chapelfield Gardens where Sidney spent so much of his working life.

The arrangements are being made by Gordon Barber at Aylsham Road, Norwich.

Did You Know?

On this day in 1558 Calais, the last English possession on the mainland of France, was regained by the Franch.

On this day in Norfolk of 1839 fierce gales caused widespread damage. At Great Yarmouth, 13 ships and a hundred or more crew went missing. A windmill at Diss was blown down.

On this day in 1927 the transatlantic telephone service between London and New York opened, charging a hefty �15 for three minutes.

On this day in Great Yarmouth of 1930 West's wireless shop in Regent Street was gutted by fire.

On this day in 1967 BBC1 began showing The Forsyte Saga. It became compulsive viewing and resulted in clergymen changing the times of Sunday evening church services.