Man with a passion for classic transport dies aged 74

The family of Chris Spinks remembers his life and passions after he died aged 74.

The family of Chris Spinks remembers his life and passions after he died aged 74. - Credit: Debbie Spinks

The family of a much-loved workman have recalled their time with him and shared memories of his life.

Born at home in Preston Avenue, Wymondham, on July 12 1947, Chris Spinks was the only child of Edith and Charlie Spinks.

Even though Chris attended school his youngest daughter, Debbie Spinks, said: "If he could he would prefer to miss school - instead spending his time on the farm cutting and threshing the corn.

Gloria, Debbie, Marie and Chris at Debbie's Queen's guide presentation March 2010.

Gloria, Debbie, Marie and Chris at Debbie's Queen's guide presentation March 2010. - Credit: Debbie Spinks

"When he finished school at 15 he worked for the local Co-op delivering milk, collecting and delivering laundry, before becoming a heavy goods driver at 21.

"He was a long-distance driver delivering lots of different items across the country.

"It was long hours and while he had to spend nights away he loved what he did."

Chris' long distance lorry driving only stopped when he had his family and the over-night stays were less convenient.

Chris and Gloria on their wedding day on October 6, 1973, outside Wymondham Methodist church.

Chris and Gloria on their wedding day on October 6, 1973, outside Wymondham Methodist church. - Credit: Debbie Spinks

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Chris met Gloria at a banger racing event and the two got talking straight away.

Debbie added: "He used to drive one of the banger cars and they ended up chatting.

"Less than a year later they got married on October 6, 1973, at the Methodist Church in Wymondham.

"Then they had my older sister, Marie, in 1977 before moving to Norwich Road two years later - where they stayed."

"And finally, in 1983, they had me."

Chris preparing to be father of the bride on Marie's wedding day on August 29 ,1998, outside Wymondham Abbey.

Chris preparing to be father of the bride on Marie's wedding day on August 29 ,1998, outside Wymondham Abbey. - Credit: Debbie Spinks

Chris' oldest daughter, Marie Watling, said: "He was such a funny dad - was very loving and very caring.

"He always wanted to be involved with what we were doing."

Chris' wife, Gloria, said: "He was ever such a loving husband - we had a caravan and used to travel the local holiday spots.

"He was often referred to as a gentleman and that is so true."

Debbie added: "He always wanted to know how we were and be part of what we did - he was always there for us."

Chris and Izzy beside Princess Royal in 2012.

Chris and Izzy beside Princess Royal in 2012. - Credit: Debbie Spinks

Later in life Chris became a grandad to Marie's children - Luke 17, Izzy 14, and Jason who would now be 22 - but who unfortunately died.

"Chris loved being a grandad - him and Jason were two peas in a pod" said Debbie.

With Chris' family complete he started working a an MOT tester on lorries and cars.

His tough but fair style led him to become known as the "MOT man" in the area.

Debbie said: "He was so well-known by the community and a lot of females would have their car tested by him for the simple reason that they knew he wouldn't swindle them.

Marie, son-in-law Darren, Gloria, Chris and Debbie with Luke, Izzy and Jason at Chris' 65th birthday party in July 2012.

Marie, son-in-law Darren, Gloria, Chris and Debbie with Luke, Izzy and Jason at Chris' 65th birthday party in July 2012. - Credit: Debbie Spinks

"Having two daughters he would never take advantage of a women in that situation - unlike most mechanics back in the day."

Chris would spend the remainder of his working career doing MOTs until he retired in 2012.

But his mechanical prowess continued even after his retirement - working for John Kemp Land Rover company.

When Chris wasn't working or with his family he had a passion for classic transport - mainly cars and steam engines.

Chris carrying a bag of coal for the Princess Royal traction engine in 2010.

Chris carrying a bag of coal for the Princess Royal traction engine in 2010. - Credit: Debbie Spinks

Gloria said: "He used to look after the Princess Royal at Strumpshaw - a traction steam engine.

"Chris would fix it up and I would clean it."

In January 2022 Chris was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable cancer, called granulocytic sarcoma leukaemia, which caused him to be admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

And on May 4, surrounded by all his family at NNUH, Chris died aged 74.

He leaves behind wife Gloria, daughters Debbie and Marie, as well as his grandchildren Luke and Izzy.