A FAMILY has paid tribute to a much-loved husband, father and former village shop owner who died on Christmas Day.

Don Darkins, former owner of Darkins Supply Store, in Swan Street, Sible Hedingham, has died at the age of 90.

Mr Darkins moved to the area when he began his National Service at RAF Ridgewell in 1950, before meeting the love of his life Joan, whom he married two years later when they moved to Sible Hedingham. They went on to have six children.

After being a carpenter and builder for many years, Mr and Mrs Darkins started Darkins Supply Stores in 1967.

The store was later passed down to granddaughter Victoria Metson and son-in-law Stephen Metson in 2015 and is still thriving today with third-generation owners.

Halstead Gazette: Darkins Supply Stores in Sible HedinghamDarkins Supply Stores in Sible Hedingham (Image: Google Maps)

Mr Darkins’s eldest son Bob has paid tribute to his late father, speaking about his life and loves.

He said: “Don was a competent drummer playing for primary school productions, and also with pianists Derek Chatten and Ken Earey at local pubs.

“He also played for several years at the village’s annual pantomime.

“In the 1960s Don and Joan played in a concert show based on the TV programme of the time, The Black and White Minstrel Show.

“In the late 60s, Don developed a fundraising Santa, which travelled the villages raising funds for Braintree Gateway club for more than 30 years and was delighted his idea has been revived in recent years, bringing much pleasure to many.

“In the early 1980s he helped to set up the fundraising needed for the renovation of the barn which is now the Scout Hut in Sheepcote Road in Castle Hedingham where he also served as chairman for many years.

“He was also an active member of Castle Hedingham bowls club for many years and made a life member, of which he was very proud.”

Mr Darkins later gave up bowls in his 70s to become a full-time carer for Joan, who died in 2013.

He then enjoyed travelling to fresh destinations and seeing some of his favourite performers such as Queen, Art Garfunkel and Barbara Streisand.

Bob added: “Don will be sadly missed by family, friends and all who knew him, but his legacy will not be forgotten.”

The family has said Mr Darkin's funeral will be held on Wednesday, February 1 at 11:30am at St Peter’s Church in Sible Hedingham, all are welcome.