LOYAL chip shop customers are being invited to pay tribute to a community stalwart and much-loved family man who sadly passed away last month.

Paul Cook, 54, who was born and raised in Clacton, passed away on May 19 after spending time in the intensive care unit at Colchester Hospital.

Roughly 24 years ago, Mr Cook acquired a property in Holland-on-Sea, alongside his wife of 27 years, Lisa, before opening a fish and chip shop called The Golden Fillet.

The award-winning chippie became a pillar of the town, with Mr Cook’s sons Joseph, Samuel, and Alex, and daughter Molly, providing a comforting family feel for regulars.

As a result, the former builder, whose family say he would do anything to help anyone, became a familiar and friendly face, who was revered by locals.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

The news of his passing was, therefore, followed by an outpouring of condolences and tributes, with hundreds of people paying their respects online.

His family are now encouraging customers and local residents to honour his memory and popularity by gathering outside The Golden Fillet ahead of his funeral.

“My dad has owned the shop for the last 24 years, and he built up many friendships within the community,” said Mr Cook’s son, Joseph.

“We are not allowed many people at the funeral, because of the situation we find ourselves in.

“So, we would like to invite everyone to see him off and pay their respects and tributes before we leave, but please respect the social distancing guidelines.”

Mr Cook’s horse drawn hearse will be positioned outside the Golden Fillet from 11am on Friday June 26 for roughly 20 minutes.

The procession will then travel to Weeley Crematorium where the funeral will take place with a select few of Mr Cook’s close family and friends in attendance.

“He would be really annoyed that we are shutting the shop on Fish Friday, and losing that much money, so we thought we would get him back a bit,” Joseph added.

The Golden Fillet will be closed on June 26 and 27, before reopening to the public on June 29.