‘The most colourful character’ - Honiton’s Norman Sparks dies aged 86

PUBLISHED: 12:40 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:10 05 February 2018

Norman Sparks, who ran a small shoe repair shop in New Street, Honiton. Images: Google Maps / Alex Walton

Norman Sparks, who ran a small shoe repair shop in New Street, Honiton. Images: Google Maps / Alex Walton


The 86-year-old, who ran a shoe repair business in New Street, died peacefully in his sleep on January 28.

A ‘true Honiton character’ who ran a small shoe repair shop in the town for more than 40 years has died.

Norman ‘Sparky’ Sparks was often seen fixing shoes in the window of his shop in New Street and was described as one of Honiton’s ‘most colourful characters’.

He died peacefully in his sleep aged 86 on Sunday, January 28.

Roger Hemming, of Roger Hemming Estate Agents, said Norman will be sorely missed, adding: “He really was a true local Honiton character. We used to chat about putting the world to rights.

“It’s a shame because there are not many old boys like him left in town.”

Norman’s life was opened up in an interview conducted by Roger several years ago.

Born into the county’s farming community in Buckerell in 1931, Norman spent most of the war years as a schoolboy in East Devon.

Norman attended the Buckerell Village School, leaving when he was only 14.

He immediately went to work on the land, becoming particularly adept in the old art of hedgelaying.

With the amount of heavy lifting involved beginning to take its toll on his body, fitness issues eventually forced Norman to give up farm work in 1960.

He quickly realised he had to learn a trade, so he took advantage of a government training scheme which involved moving to Croydon to take a six-month course learning the craft of shoe repairing.

A job offer at a shoe repairer in Torquay soon followed, which he accepted, and not long afterwards in Newton Abbot he met his future wife, Sue, who he married in 1961.

Norman and Sue moved to Honiton in 1970, securing a mortgage and buying 20 New Street, premises with living accommodation over the shop.

His shop, N H & S E Sparks, opened soon afterwards.

Norman and Sue quickly settled into a busy life of work and play in Honiton.

He was well known for his prowess at the oche, he was a keen member of the Exeter Inn darts team.

Norman became a widower in 1997 and up to his death, had been plying his trade some 43 years after first opening his New Street shop.

It is thought the shop will close down for good.

Norman’s funeral will be held next Wednesday (February 7) at St Paul’s church at 2pm.

Any donations will be sent to the Salvation Army.

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