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Hobbies champion Ivan dies at 92

PUBLISHED: 17:05 25 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:03 07 July 2010

Ivan Stroulger, the man who kept alive the world- famous Dereham name of Hobbies, has died aged 92.

Having worked for the fretsaw and crafts manufacturer for about 30 years, he ploughed his redun-dancy money into starting a model firm from his home in the town and bought the Hobbies patent.

Ivan Stroulger, the man who kept alive the world- famous Dereham name of Hobbies, has died aged 92.

Having worked for the fretsaw and crafts manufacturer for about 30 years, he ploughed his redun-dancy money into starting a model firm from his home in the town and bought the Hobbies patent.

Tens of thousands of the annual Hobbies catalogues are still sold around the globe.

Mr Stroulger was also a family man, a magistrate on the Dereham bench and a committed Christian who served as secretary at Dere-ham Baptist Church for 28 years.

Born at Bintree in 1916, he first worked as a dispenser at Foulsham Chemists and then got a job at Hobbies in 1936.

He moved quickly to work in its London branch and within six months was offered a job as first assistant in Manchester.

Among his feats, Mr Stroulger once biked the 180 miles to Manchester from Bintree in a single day on an old three-speed bike with no road map. Two weeks later he did the same on the return journey.

It was in Manchester that he met Margaret, and they were married for 63 years. Mrs Stroulger died in 2003.

In the second world war he joined the army and served as a company quartermaster sergeant.

In 1953, Mr Stroulger was offered the job of supply manager at Hobbies HQ in Dereham and he returned to the town, moving to Elvin Road with Margaret and sons Alan, Philip, Geoffrey and Robert. Their youngest son, John, was born after their return to Norfolk. Mr Stroulger loved spending time with his family, and he had eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Hobbies - which had been going since 1895 - ran into difficulties in 1968 and he was made redundant.

It was the catalyst for him to start his new enterprise from his home, and he did designing, cutting and assembly there. He then moved to the old GPO maintenance depot at Quebec Road before setting up base in Swaffham Road, where Hobbies remained until the company was sold. It later moved to its present home at Raven-ingham, near Loddon.

Mr Stroulger was also a past president of the Norfolk Baptist Association.

Alan said: “He was an amazing man and full of life and very courageous.” And Philip recalled that he was meticulous and precise in all that he did, being a man of great integrity and having a great sense of humour.

A thanksgiving service will be held at Cowper Congregational Church in Dereham on Monday, starting at noon.

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