Lasting tribute to Emma

AN empty chair surrounded by flowers marks the spot where a well-known character rested in Ipswich town centre every day for 20-years.Now, following the death of pensioner Emma Hunt, a permanent memorial has been placed above the chair outside Debenhams.

AN empty chair surrounded by flowers marks the spot where a well-known character rested in Ipswich town centre every day for 20-years.

Now, following the death of pensioner Emma Hunt, a permanent memorial has been placed above the chair outside Debenhams.

The store has paid for the plaque to be hung in memorial of the 82-year-old who died on New Year's Eve.

Nick Panayi, deputy store manager at Debenhams, said: "After 20 years of her being here day in, day out and being friendly with all the customers, we felt it was a mark of respect.

"Many of our customers asked if we were going to do anything to mark her passing and even offered to pay for a plaque themselves. We just felt we had to do something."

Among the flowers laid by the chair was one with a label that simply read: "Hope wherever you are they are serving you a nice cuppa and a piece of cake."

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Rob Dunger, who runs Tower Flowers outside the Debenhams store, said: "I considered her to be as much a part of Ipswich as a Giles cartoon is, everybody knew her without actually knowing her.

"Many of the customers have stopped by as a mark of respect. Some have cried and one gentlemen even took his hat off and stood in silence by the chair."

Mrs Hunt was mainly recognised because of her dog Benjam, who was always seen at her side.

She was known for selling copies of the Evening Star on the Corn Hill and later sold flowers on the streets.

Evening Star reader Mary King, of Grove Hill, Ipswich, said: "On several occasions we stopped and chatted about her dog and would have a little laugh before she would go on her way.

"She always seemed such a hard working, gentle person with a ready smile for all who stopped to chat to her.

"She was a lovely lady, one of the town's true characters and will be missed by many people, myself included."

Born in Dereham, Norfolk, Mrs Hunt moved to Ipswich after marrying Douglas and walked the entire distance.

The couple set up home in Little Whip Street and Mr Hunt worked for Ransomes.

After his death several years ago, Mrs Hunt moved to Burrell Road where she lived until her death.

Her nephew Paul Canham, who lives in Dereham, said: "Although she had many friends in the town, she was quite an isolated woman and didn't have many visitors to her house.

"She had a hard life but maintained a heart of gold and I am sure the people who used to stop and chat to her will miss her very much.

"You don't get many characters like her around these days."

A funeral will be held for Mrs Hunt, who lived in Burrell Road, Ipswich, at St Mary of Stoke Church, Ipswich tomorrow at 2pm.

Would you like to pay tribute to Emma Hunt? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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