Thrapston chippy founder dies after coronavirus fight

Derek Gunn battled the virus at Kettering General Hospital

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 5:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 5:44 pm

Tributes have been paid to the founder of a chip shop in Thrapston who died after contracting COVID-19.

Great-grandfather Derek Gunn, 91, founded Ben's Chippy in Oundle Road and it was his "pride and joy" until he retired.

He had underlying health conditions and had been fighting the virus for just under two weeks at Kettering General Hospital until he died late last night (Tuesday).

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Derek Gunn. Credit: Ben's Chippy

His daughter Alison Tibbs said: "Once we found out he was diagnosed with coronavirus we were not allowed to go and see him.

"The hardest part was not being able to be with him in his final hours.

"With mum we were by her bedside and were able to say goodbye but we didn't get that."

Derek grew up in Islip and stayed in the area, moving between the village and Thrapston.

He married wife Frances, who died last year, and worked hard to provide for his seven children.

Derek worked for Stewarts & Lloyds in Corby and helped fundraise for a swimming pool in Thrapston. Once it was built he became the manager there, becoming a popular face in the town

In 1979 he left and took on Ben's Chippy before handing it down to his family in 1990 when he retired.

Dozens of tributes have been left on the chip shop's Facebook page.

One man said: "So sorry to hear this sad news...fondly remember Derek when Ben's first opened and we used to stop off on the way back from the pub on our bikes for the best fish and chips in the area."

Another said: "So sorry to hear this. I remember Derek when he looked after the old Thrapston swimming pool (pre-chippy days).

"That pool was always spotlessly clean. A very sad loss. RIP Derek."

Alison said: "We are overwhelmed by the messages we have had.

"I think dad would have been humbled by them and amazed."

Derek is believed to be the sixth person to die at the Rothwell Road hospital after testing positive for the virus.

Four other deaths, which took place between March 23 and March 30, were announced this afternoon.The death toll in England has now passed 2,000 and Alison urged everybody to play their part in battling the virus by sticking to orders to stay inside.

She said: "I would urge everybody where possible to just stay indoors and do as you're told.

"Do your thing and help protect the rest in your community."