GRANTHAM’S longest serving fish fryer has died - his only regret that he didn’t get chance to say goodbye to his customers.
Graham Hutton, who was the face of Manthorpe Road chippy for 47 years, died at his Honington home on Sunday, December 4 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
The 64-year-old was forced to switch off his fryers and hang up his white overalls for the last time in August due to ill health.
He wasn’t able to explain to his loyal customers why he had closed the shop and a simple sign in the window had to suffice.
Graham’s wife Ginny, who was by his side behind the counter for much of his career, said: “If Graham could have gone back to the shop for a fortnight to say a proper goodbye he would have.
“He would have loved to announce his retirement in his own way and to thank everyone for their support over the years.
“Some of our customers have been with us since the beginning and we would see them every week so we got to know people well.”
Graham, whose parents ran a chip van in Sleaford and Cranwell before settling at the Manthorpe Road shop in 1964, was a stickler for tradition.
Right until the shop closed, the chips were fried in dripping and the fish suppers wrapped in newspaper.
He once explored the concept of a deep fried Mars Bar when they became popular in the 1990s, at the request of his younger customers, but they never became a permanent fixture on the menu.
Ginny, the only person who knows Graham’s secret batter recipe, said: “He would do anything for our customers.
“He would skin the fish for those who didn’t like the skin, make specific portion sizes and double fry chips for customers who liked them browner.
“Some of our regulars were like clockwork and their meals would be wrapped up ready for when they walked through the door.”
Graham was determined to keep his customers happy, even through adversity. He managed to keep on frying during power cuts and the fuel shortages of the miners strikes in the 1980s.
He took just a week’s holiday a year with the exception of a longer break in South Africa to celebrate 40 years in business in 2004.
That same year, Graham escaped with minor injuries after a fire at the shop.
Ginny said: “We are overwhelmed by the kind words and messages people have sent since he died and he would have been surprised to know how much people thought of him.
“Graham never won awards for being a good businessman or for his customer service, but to us, he was always a hero.”
Graham leaves behind Ginny, their son Steven and daughters Pennie and Kate, grandchildren Adam, Harry, Daniel, Kerri, Lauren and Benjie and cousin Barry.
His funeral was held in Grantham yesterday.
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