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Tributes to father, husband and Stratford businessman, Fred Winter

Fred Winter (44594450)
Fred Winter (44594450)

FRED Winter, the former managing director of the Stratford family-run department store, has died aged 86.

A father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Mr Winter fell ill around Christmas time with a form of dementia and died on Saturday 20th February.

It was Mr Winter’s great-grandfather Frederick who created the Fred Winter store, originally situated in Stratford High Street, in 1858.

Educated at Bloxham School, Mr Winter – who was born in Loxley in May 1934 – joined the family business after three years in the RAF and some apprenticeships, including one at the David Morgan department store in Cardiff.

His son Guy said: “He came back in his mid-20s to work in the shop in Stratford, which was on the High Street in those days.

“His favourite thing in the shops was dress fabrics. There was a world in those days, going back to the 60s, when home dressmaking was quite a big business. There was also an awful lot of things that were made for people rather than bought.

“We did Liberty prints – we were one of the Liberty store’s biggest provincial accounts.”

It was while working in the store that Mr Winter first met his wife Bridget.

Guy said: “Bridget’s mother was a customer in the shop and the comment was, ‘Who was that good-looking woman?’ My mother was particularly striking, so I could understand that.”

The couple were married in Honington in 1958. They had two children, Guy and Charles, and Mrs Winter went on to work in the fashion department at Fred Winter.

As managing director of the department store, Mr Winter helped oversee the move to new premises in Henley Street, which were opened in 1999 by actress Joanna Lumley.

Mr Winter’s eventual retirement in 2008 – he had reduced his hours from 2000 onwards – coincided with the credit crunch, an event which changed the fortunes of the store.

After retiring, Mr Winter carried on helping with the family’s two farms.

“At Honington we have a couple of farms, so he took a lot of his interest in those, along with gardening,” Guy said. “He enjoyed buying and selling wheat – he loved country life.”

Mr Winter was also a keen and capable skier and golfer – his passion for golf had seen him play at courses in different parts of the world.

Guy added that his father approved of the work to transform the shop, which closed in the summer of 2018, into a homeless centre, due to open its doors later this year.

“He thought it was a fantastic idea,” Guy said.

Mr Winter is survived by wife Bridget, sons Guy and Charles, grandchildren Tom, Bryony and Charlie, and great-grandchild Jaxon.

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