'A Yarmouth person through and through' - Wife pays tribute to bowls stalwart
PUBLISHED: 11:25 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:53 23 May 2019
A wife and daughter have paid tribute to the man known as the face of bowls in Great Yarmouth.
Derek Webster, 85, of Lichfield Road, died on Friday (May 17) at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
He was most well-known as manager of the town's Festival of Bowls, a role he held for 25 years during which the event was transformed from a local competition to one of the largest in the country.
His wife of 57 years, Irene, said: "He was a Yarmouth person through and through."
Mr Webster was born and bred in the town.
He was bombed out of the Rows four times during the Second World War and once saw a bomb drop on Kay's supermarket on the corner of Nottingham Way.
His first job was sweeping up at a sweet factory where payment was a jar of broken sweets.
He was refused national service because he had lost the sight in his right eye in a childhood accident.
The Websters ran newsagents along the seafront for 40 years before they took over the Rumbold Arms on Southtown Road.
When the pair switched jobs again to run a fish and chip shop on Barkers Road, Mr Webster had more time and started managing the bowls tournament.
He had started sponsoring the festival in 1974 and retired as its manager last September.
The annual tournament - which runs for four weeks starting on the August Bank Holiday weekend - began in 1945.
Mr Webster's proudest achievement was in 2014 when he received the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to bowls and to local charities.
His wife, 74, said: "He lived for this town. Great Yarmouth meant everything to Derek.
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"He was a great family man, he would do anything to help people if he could."
His daughter, Annette, 56, said: "He worshipped the ground his family walked on.
"He was proud of what he achieved with the bowls.
"People don't realise the amount of time and effort he put into it, he used to get up at 3 or 4 in the morning.
"I am proud to be Derek Webster's daughter," she said.
Cllr Michael Jeal, the mayor of the Great Yarmouth borough, said: "During his 25 years as tournament manager, Derek played a key role in helping to ensure the Great Yarmouth Festival of Bowls remained the biggest outdoor open bowling event in the country, managing the competition during the period of play, in addition to signing up players, sponsors and advertisers in advance.
"He will be much missed in the borough and the bowls community.
"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time," the mayor said.
Mr Webster is survived by his wife and daughter, grandchildren Hannah, 28, and Nicholas, 25, and his two-year-old great-grandson Nyle.
Funeral arrangements are yet to me made.