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Popular figure dies aged 57

PUBLISHED: 13:56 28 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:31 03 July 2010

THE former landlord of a Great Yarmouth seafront pub has died at the age of 57.

Robert George Balls, known as Bobby, died at home in the early hours of Saturday morning, surrounded by family and friends.

THE former landlord of a Great Yarmouth seafront pub has died at the age of 57.

Robert George Balls, known as Bobby, died at home in the early hours of Saturday morning, surrounded by family and friends.

Son Martin said: “For the last 48 hours the house was full of people saying their goodbyes. There were 12 people around him at the end.”

Bobby was born in Great Yarmouth and as a child lived in Baliol Road, Gorleston.

After leaving school he went to work with the beach ponies, later progressing to driving landaus for 25 years - and during the winter months running his own roofing business.

Leaving the landaus, he went into the licensing trade, taking over as landlord of The Marine on the seafront where he and wife Linda stayed for 16 years until five years ago, when he briefly took over nearby Flints.

He retired to spend time travelling, settling down in the Canary Islands and returned to the UK earlier this year due to his illness.

Bobby had married Linda in 1971 and the couple lived in Cobholm for many years. They divorced after 10 years but got back together two years later.

Bobby leaves a widow, son Martin and daughter Donna, and three grandchildren.

Long-time friend Stephen Smith, landlord of the Lichfield Arms said: “Bobby was like a second father to me and he taught me everything when I left school and went to work with the horses on the seafront. He also helped when I went into the licensing business, and he was my best man when I married.

“He was always laughing and joking, a great man.”

The funeral service is at Gorleston Crematorium on Monday at noon. Donations in lieu of flowers will be going to the oncology unit at the James Paget University Hospital.

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