Cherished milkman who was 'a friend to everyone' dies, aged 92
- Credit: Sally Tucker
A beloved milkman who started his rounds aged just 14, has died aged 92.
Jack Betts was born in Sprowston's School Lane on June 27, 1929 and was the only child of Gertrude Betts.
Upon leaving school aged 14 the half pint immediately threw himself into the world of work.
Sally Tucker, Jack's daughter, said: "He left school on Friday and on the Monday he started working at Fiveways Co-op as a milkman.
"It was so long ago he started out with a horse and cart.
"Throughout his time there he was so well-liked in the area.
"There was one time the Co-op did a reshuffle of the routes and Jack's Waterloo Road and Albany Road routes were given to someone else.
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"People in the area put up posters and plaques to get Jack back. He was a friend to everyone."
At 18, Jack left the Co-op to do his national service in the army.
He served in the Middle East until he was 21.
Sally said: "You knew you were in for a story when you heard: 'When I was in the army'.
"When he came back from his national service Jack rejoined the Co-op."
Landing back on home turf, Jack started speaking to a girl who he had noticed three years prior.
Sally said: "Jack spotted a girl in a green coat while he was out and about doing his deliveries.
"Even though he didn't talk to her or even approach her at the time - he was adamant she was going to be his wife one day - that was Jean.
"So when he came back from the army he put a Valentine's card through her door."
"They soon became a couple and got married on June 30, 1956, at Christ Church in New Catton.
"Jack would always give Jean a Valentine's Day card every year," she added.
Shortly after marrying Jack and Jean welcomed their first child.
Sally was born in 1962 with a son named Steve arriving three years later.
The couple soon moved into a cottage in Sprowston to be able to house their new additions.
It was here Jack spent his free time playing darts and caring for his family, which he "loved to do".
Sally said: "He would win multiple darts competitions on the amateur circuit.”
With Jack's family complete he turned his attention to getting his heavy goods licence.
Sally added: "It was always his ambition to drive a lorry so when he got the opportunity in the 80s he took it with both hands.
"He loved driving - he would drive around the 12-tonne lorries and delivered milk all over Norfolk to the milkmen - visiting places like Sheringham, Cromer and Yarmouth.
"Jack drove the lorries until he suffered an injury at work which caused him to take early retirement at 63."
Jack and Jean moved to Old Catton in the late 90s where they would settle.
"He was the best dad you could ever have - he was so caring and everybody liked him," his adoring daughter added.
In his later life Jack would battle chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as oesophageal cancer for four years.
A fall when trying to pick up a jigsaw puzzle sent Jack to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in 2022.
Sally added: "He had successful surgery but the trauma of having that along with his COPD caused him to contract pneumonia."
Jack Betts shared his last kiss with Jean and died on May 10, 2022, at the NNUH.
Sally said: "All the family had been with him that day and we were all able to say goodbye to him in our own way.
"He died just after we left and we think he waited so that he could say goodbye to everyone first.
"It's fair to say he will be very much missed by everybody - a light that has gone out of our lives."
Jack leaves behind loving wife Jean, daughter Sally and son Steve, as well as his two grandchildren Josh, Chloe and great-grandchild Jessica.