Former Great Yarmouth hotelier dies at 55

Michelle Caunt with her pet skunk called GuinnessPicture: James BassEastern Daily Press © 2008 (016

Michelle Caunt with her pet skunk called GuinnessPicture: James BassEastern Daily Press © 2008 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2008

A woman who owned a hotel in Great Yarmouth has died at the age of 55.

Michelle Caunt, who was born in South London, took over the Corner House Hotel in Albert Square with husband Len in April 2007.

Mrs Caunt was known as a big animal lover, owning two pet skunks which became huge attractions at the hotel.

Before she went into the hotel industry she was a model, worked at a travel agents, in the national security industry and even in the Middle East assisting governments with new building works.

It was as a PA in the national security industry where she met Len in the late 1980s and the pair married in November 1994 and in the mid-2000s they moved to Norfolk.

Mr Caunt said: “She was always a very big people person. Loved interacting with others and she had big goals. That is what led to her thinking it would be nice to run a hotel in Great Yarmouth and how we took over the Corner House Hotel.”

During a trip to the USA in 2007 the pair visited a skunk sanctuary which inspired Michelle to keep one as a pet.

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Mr Caunt said: “Michelle was always fascinated by skunks ever since she was a child. After our Florida trip we decided to get one and first there was Guinness, who was such a big attraction. We let him have the run of the flat upstairs and Michelle would bring him down to the bar and people would take pictures of him.

“Sadly Guinness died but we then had another one called Minstrel who was also really popular.

“There was never any threat of them squirting a gland excretion. They tend to stand on their legs or run away if they feel threatened, and only in extreme cases would they squirt but we never had that problem.”

Michelle and Len recently moved to Boston where Mrs Caunt died on October 7 after a sudden and short illness.

She was survived by her husband Len, daughters Rebekah, Stephanie and Samantha, grandchildren Lillian and Leonard and her brother Robin and his wife Wendy.