A former mayor and long-serving councillor who led the bid to buy the original Henry Tandey VC at auction for Leamington has died, aged 84.
But although the consortium in 1980 was unsuccessful with a budget of £26,000 – beaten by £1,000 – the buyer gave the original ribbons to Norman Parker.
My father’s death was the end of a long and painful journey but one in which he never lost his determination, imagination and humourJulie Dodds
And in 1997 Mr Parker bought the dress medals for £1,000 at auction, destined for display in the VC Room at the Regent Hotel, where Tandey worked in the boiler room.
The dress medals, along with other Tandey memorabilia owned by Mr Parker, will be available for permanent loan to Leamington Art Gallery and Museum, which has a replica of the VC.
Mr Parker died on July 25 after a long battle with Lewy Body dementia and Parkinson’s disease in Hexham, where he spent his final years in care supported by his daughter Julie Dodds and son-in-law Gordon.
Born in Swadlingcote, Derbyshire, he was a lover of sports, particularly football and boxing and after National Service he joined the police in Derbyshire.
But he felt that promotion for working class officers was limited, so he left the force and realised his talents for charm and persuasion could be made to work more profitably for him in the sales industry, where he won sales awards.
He moved to Coventry where he met and married his wife Gail and the couple had four children. In 1962 Mr Parker bought a house in Leam Terrace, where his love of Leamington began, and the couple started a cleaning materials business called ParPak.
Although it later occupied a large factory in Warwick, the business had humble beginnings.
Mr Parker would prepare the detergent mixture in a garage in the morning and then deliver it to hotels and catering businesses in a converted ambulance in the afternoon.
He was elected Conservative councillor for Willes ward in the 1970s until the 1990s, was chairman of Warwick District Council in 1978 and made Mayor of Leamington in 1981. Mr Parker founded the Edmondscote Sports Trust and dedicated time to the development of the sports centre, the Spa Centre and the green spaces at Newbold Comyn, initiated the Warwickshire Olympics and encouraged youth sport, sponsoring teams, and his firm paid for one to go to Canada.
He had a great sense of the theatrical and often acted as compere at town events, using his skill to win over a crowd and increase the donations at the many fundraising events he organised or supported.
His love of the stage gave him contacts in the theatre which allowed him to secure some of the more famous soap opera stars of the age to the town for the Christmas lights switch-on.
Mr Parker sold ParPak and concentrated on ParPak Partytime, a shop and balloon business in Gloucester Street from 1986 to 2009.
Hsi daughter Julie said: “My father’s death was the end of a long and painful journey but one in which he never lost his determination, imagination and humour.”
He is survived by three daughters, nine grandchildren and a great grandson.
There will be private cremation in Hexham. His wish was that his ashes would return to Leamington.
A memorial service will be held in All Saints’ church. A Facebook page on which family and friends can share photos and stories of him on Facebook.