Tribute paid to Warwick's very own 'Willy Wonka'

Nigel inside the  Mary's Sweet Memories in Warwick. Photo supplied.
Nigel inside the Mary's Sweet Memories in Warwick. Photo supplied.

Tributes have been paid to Warwick’s very own ‘Willy Wonka’.

Nigel Ackroyd, who ran traditional sweet shop Mary’s Sweet Memories in Market Place, died on May 31 aged 56.

Nigel, who lived in Burbage, Leicestershire, with his wife Mary, was a big character in Warwick and ran the sweet shop for seven years.

He took a step back from the shop when his health deteriorated towards the end of 2018. In February Nigel was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.

Mary said: “He initially worked for Ansell’s Brewery but spent most of his career in radio. He worked with BRMB, Galaxy, Smooth and he also helped set up Heart FM.

"It was because of radio that he was known by so many people and we have seen so many messages from people in the radio world saying that Nigel helped them when they started their careers.

Nigel outside Mary's Sweet Memories in Warwick. Photo supplied.

Nigel outside Mary's Sweet Memories in Warwick. Photo supplied.

“We then went on to open a sweet shop in Hinckley, which we ran for eight years and then after the first year we set up the one in Warwick. We loved it because it is in a beautiful old building and the town itself lends itself perfectly to a sweet shop.

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“Nigel never saw the shop as work it was a joy to him. He loved meeting people, helping people and it was the perfect thing for him.

“We could never replace Nigel as he had such a passion for it and he loved it and people coming into the shop loved him. There was never a miserable face.

“He was involved with the community with things such as supporting events at Warwick Racecourse and he always made sure the shop was open if something was going on in the town as it was important to him to support the town.”

Mary and Nigel on their wedding day. Photos supplied.

Mary and Nigel on their wedding day. Photos supplied.

Nigel and Mary have five grown-up children from previous relationships and married in September 2018 where Nigel donned a Willy Wonka- style outfit.

Mary said: “He was the love of my life and he completely stole the show on our wedding day. His hat and cane from the day will be on top of the coffin and Gene Wilder’s Pure Imagination will also be played.

“We would like to thank the nurses and carers as they were fantastic and all of our customers, many of whom have become friends over the years, for all their support and messages.

"We also want to thank Val, Billy, Peter and Suzanne at the shop who have been brilliant and supportive. The sweet shop will continue on.”

Over the years the sweet shop has attracted attention.

In 2017 Nigel and the shop attracted national attention with the ‘sweetometer’ poll for the general election.

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The shop has also attracted other attention. Mary said: “We have a lot of interest in the shop because of its history. There’s also a ghost in the shop and Nigel would go in and find things had moved. We have had people get in touch about staying there to do research.

“We also had Channel 4 get in touch to film at the shop for a piece on Cadbury – Nigel would have loved that.”

Nigel’s funeral will be held at St Catherine’s Church, Burbage, on June 22 at 9.15am.

A wake will be held at the Lime Kilns Inn, Burbage. Family flowers only but donation are welcome for FC Burbage under-10s football team.