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Farewell to a True Norfolk Character

Published: 01 March 2022

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Owen James in his vegetable garden

Wymondham Magazine is sad to announce that Owen James, our wonderful story teller from The Potting Shed, has sadly left us. He passed away peacefully at the NNUH on Valentine's Day, aged 96, after suffering a stroke.  

He was the much loved father of Annette, father-in-law to Julian, and uncle to Lorraine and Sharon. Annette says: "My Dad was a true Norfolk character who was both a gentleman and a gentle man. He was born in Bunwell and lived there for all but the last three and a half years of his life when he moved to Robert Kett Court in Wymondham; a place he was very happy to be in his last years and where he became a popular resident who will be missed greatly by the staff. He hardly ever left Norfolk and had a great passion for the county's countryside, its wildlife, its people and its way of life. His was not a rich family and he knew privation growing up, but he was incredibly contented and happy with his lot and never craved material things.  

"His working life saw him employed as a shepherd, a farm labourer, a postman, a vermin destroyer, a general handyman... even a gravedigger! What he lacked in formal education he made up for with a natural wit and innate intelligence. He was at his happiest when tending his garden growing flowers and vegetables, out with his gun - often poaching - or getting involved in local life as Chair of the Parish Council, Chair of the Primary School Governors and Chair of the Village Hall Committee. He was immensely proud of the fact that at one point he held all three positions simultaneously. He was a very popular Bunwell resident and the many tributes received by the family consistently describe him as a legend, a wonderful man, and a real Norfolk character. His is a way of rural life that is fast disappearing and for many his passing signifiies the end of an era.

"The Potting Shed's door is now temporarily closed. I say temporarily because I have a couple more tales left that I can write up and share in the future. I hope, one day, to get his stories published as a book. He loved dictating these tales and, particularly during Covid, the task gave us both a focus and made our relationship even closer than it already was. The memories he gave me and the stories he told you, his audience, will last and have created a very special legacy.  

"I could not have wished for a better father. Until we meet again Dad, moined 'ow yer go."

The funeral will take place at Breckland Crematorium on Wednesday 16th March at 11am - all welcome. 

RIP Owen Stewart James: 6th September 1925 - 14th February 2022

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