Tributes are paid to dedicated shop owner and grandad

John Taylor
John Taylor
From left: PO Adam Hilton,  Father Christmas, Captain Peter Towell, CPO Chris 'Paddy' Gilkes and Malcolm Dent

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FAMILY and friends have paid tribute to a much loved pet shop owner.

John Taylor who owned Arundel Aviaries and Fisheries in Fratton, died on January 18 at the age of 79.

Granddaughter Leanne Hazlewood described Mr Taylor, who died from prostate cancer, as a popular and generous family man with a great sense of humour.

The 30-year-old said: ‘We put the news of his death on our shop’s Facebook page and customers gave us a real outpouring of love.

‘People who came in the shop as children have since brought their own children in, that’s how long everyone has known him.’

The post, which received over 200 comments, saw customer Richard Paddon write: ‘I’m very sorry to hear the news. I’ll always remember John for taking so many of us kids out into the countryside in the 60s. Most of us would never have seen it without him.

‘He should’ve had an award from the community.’

The shop was opened in 1929 by Mr Taylor’s father.

When he died, Mr Taylor took over with the help of his family, and continued to work there for 64 years.

His son Lee Taylor and daughter-in-law Lu, will now take over the shop.

Leanne, from Fratton said: ‘He loved being there, it was his pride and joy.’

Mr Taylor, who was married for 58 years to June, loved animals from a young age and was an expert in marine fish.

Leanne recalled a recent memory of taking Mr Taylor to see new premises purchased for the business.

She added: ‘Despite being in a wheelchair by this point, he insisted on seeing it. His smile lit the room up knowing that his beloved fish room would be expanding. He had cancer for 14 years but only immediate family and friends knew, he didn’t want the sympathy.

‘Unfortunately he had to stop working about six months ago and so customers found out, but they used to go upstairs and talk to him still.’

The great-grandfather would often do magic tricks for children who came in the shop.

Long-time customer Stephen Day, 38, said: ‘I’ve known John since I was about five years old. I used to go in the shop with my dad.

‘He had a lot of time for people and was always making them laugh. He always took the time to explain things to customers and tell them stories.’

The funeral is due to take place at Portchester Crematorium on February 4, at 10am.