Couple bid emotional farewell to seaside chippy they ran for 30 years

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for t

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for the past 30 years. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Generations of chip lovers bid a fond farewell to a couple who ran a beloved seaside fish bar for 30 years.

Debbie and Mark Cox, of Winterton Fish Bar, hung up their spatulas and tongs for the last time on Saturday (March 19) - but promised they would be returning to the village where they have made a lifetime of coastal memories.

Customers old and new gathered on Beach Road to wish the couple the best for the future while music from local band Twisted Keys added to the sense of occasion. 

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for t

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for the past 30 years. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Before the couple moved to Winterton, Mr Cox, 60, ran an electrical wholesale company.

He said: "We'd always loved Winterton. When this property came up we thought we'd have a look and see.

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for t

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for the past 30 years. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

"There was an opening to build the business up. At the start we thought we'd give it five years, and see how it goes, and five years turned into 30.

"It's been lovely. We've made so many good friends here," he said.

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The couple, who were helped out at the chippy by their sons Ryan and Sam, will move to Filby before looking for a place in Winterton.

"We don't want to leave the village," Mr Cox said.

"You spend so many hours in the shop, especially in the summer and there are so many things you want to do. We'll have the time now," he added.

Mr Cox said he'll miss seeing so many people all the time as the job had become part of the couple's social life.

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for t

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for the past 30 years. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

He added: "One of the things we won't miss is the seven days a week in the summer, when everyone is enjoying the sunshine and you have to keep saying, 'Sorry, we can't make it'."

Mrs Cox, who was also celebrating her 59th birthday, struggled to describe what was an emotional day.

She explained: "I'm speechless, which doesn't happen very often.

"I'm having an out-of-body experience watching all this today. It still hasn't sunk in."

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for t

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for the past 30 years. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

She said the villagers had welcomed them from day one.

"We just took a leap. I thought it was nuts. Mark couldn't even make beans on toast," she said.

Mrs Cox will miss the people and the banter.

"The village is our life. I'll miss all the love and the laughter, and being part of the village.

"We hope to come back. This is where our heart is," she added.

The fish bar will be taken over by another couple, Adrian and Lynn Collins.

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for t

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for the past 30 years. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Celebrity customers

Throughout the three decades with Mark and Debbie Cox at the helm, Winterton Fish Bar proved to be a popular spot with both locals and holidaymakers - and even the odd celebrity.  

Bradley Walsh, best known for playing the role of Danny Baldwin in Coronation Street, ended up introducing his family to the Coxes after initially popping in for a takeaway. 

And Simon Lowe, who has acted in Eastenders and Game of Thrones, visited the fish bar several times while on holiday.

 

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for t

Mark and Debbie Cox on their final day at Winterton Fish Bar after serving locals and visitors for the past 30 years. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

The chippy was also once named one of the five best in Norfolk after being visited three times by a mystery shopper.  

Mr Cox, who is originally from Norwich, said he will miss seeing so many people. 

“The job became part of our social life,” he said. “It’s been lovely. We made so many good friends here. 

“Being in the centre of the village like this is so important.”