Family tribute to ‘Bill at The Flower Shop’

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Tributes have been paid to ‘a proud Northamptonian’ who ran a shop in Abington Grove until a few days before he died, aged 84.

William G Wilkinson, known as Bill, bought the shop in the 1960s and it had many incarnations. Initially it was a Poodle Parlour, then it a was a greengrocer and then, finally, it was The Flower Shop.

His daughter, Belinda Clark, said her father always felt he was a true Northamptonian: “1929 was a harsh winter, the water pipes had frozen and Bill’s dad, Vesta, had to run down to Becket’s Well to draw water to boil for the birth. Therefore he believed he was a true Northamptonian as he was cleansed in the waters that flowed through Northampton. He always felt this was a great blessing,” she said.

“Bill had a colourful life, not meaning that he ever fell foul of the law, he didn’t; he was a very moral and upstanding person, but rather meaning that he had many ventures in his life and always stood out as an unconventional, warm and larger-than-life character who always sought to turn mishaps into opportunities and taught his children to do exactly the same,” she added.

Mr Wilkinson had a great love of animals and was a pigeon fancier at the age of nine and began a lifelong membership of Semilong Working Men’s Club. “Dad was also a keen member of the Northampton Past Facebook Group where he could keep in touch with Northamptonian people and share a love and a great pride in the Northampton of the past, rekindling long held memories and affections of wonderful places in the town that no longer exist,” she said.

Mr Wilkinson married the love of his life, Flo, in April 1955. They had four children who gave them 10 grandchildren, as well as 10 great grandchildren.

“He adored them and they all were besotted and bewitched by him, always when they saw him a great shout off ‘GPap’ went up and they would run to him to be enfolded in his arms and be tickled by his whiskers,” Belinda added.

Selling flowers and plants became a passion of Mr Wilkinson and he was loved within the community.

“People used to come in to see him and tell him all their ills and troubles and he would soothe them away with his own special brand of humour and would try always to get them to laugh their troubles away as he always did.

“Bill will be remembered by his family for the depth of his love and warmth of personality which was all encompassing and supportive. He will be remembered by the local community as the business with a heart of gold and a fantastic sense of humour, always welcoming, ready for a chat and to dispense wisdom and humour to all,” Belinda added.

Mr Wilkinson’s funeral was held on February 21.