Tributes to former Norfolk pub landlord and soldier
- Credit: Archant
Tributes have been paid to a former village pub landlord and soldier, who served in Northern Ireland during 'the troubles'.
Keith Hunter has been described by friends and former comrades as a 'legend and a true gent' following his death at the age of 69.
A proud Yorkshireman, he took on The Bell in Barnham Broom in 1993 and ran the pub with his wife Pauline for six years.
His Sunday roast dinners became his trademark along with his love of gardening which saw the pub a runner-up in Pubs In Bloom.
He also raised several thousand pounds for Guide Dogs for the Blind through fundraising days and village events.
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But it was the army that first tempted him away from his childhood home of Streethouse, a small mining village in Yorkshire where he lived with his parents Ivy and James and 10 younger brothers and sisters.
He enlisted at just 17 years of age and joined the West Yorkshire Regiment which amalgamated into the Prince of Wales' Own Regiment of Yorkshire.
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On his first posting to Cyprus, for a laugh, he and some friends decided to volunteer to work at the stables, which started his lifelong love of horses.
He was among the first troops to enter Northern Ireland just after his 20th birthday in 1969 as he said 'to sort the troubles out', and they entered Belfast marching down the streets with fixed bayonets.
On his second deployment to Northern Ireland in 1972 he met Pauline, then aged 18, at a local riding stables. They married at Palace Barracks, Hollywood, Northern Ireland in 1973.
Their first child, Stephen was born in Berlin, his next posting, in 1977, followed by Anna-Louise back in Ulster in 1980.
His ambition after the army was to run the Middle House, his local pub back in Streethouse, but the family ended up travelling further south to Norfolk and Barnham Broom, along with their dogs, cats, horses, rabbit and budgie, to take charge at The Bell.
But when the opportunity to apply for the landlordship of the Whitwell Main, Middle House as known to the locals in Streethouse, he couldn't resist and in 1999 he was offered the job.
After a few years in the 'Middle' he took on the job of Steward of the Worcester Park Royal British Legion in Surrey where he he volunteered to be the Standard Bearer at home and abroad.
He retired back to Norfolk after the birth of his first granddaughter Courtney in 2007 and then Aoife in 2016 who both adored him.
He died peacefully at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital on February 19 and his funeral takes place at Earlham Crematorium on Tuesday, March 5.
His daughter Anna said many friends had paid tribute following his death describing him as a 'professional soldier, a legend, one of the old brigade and a true gent who did everything by the book'.
She added: 'As a dad, grandad and husband he was generous, full of love and life, funny, encouraging and solid, and above all patient.'
* No flowers at his request but donations if desired to the Hethel Ward at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital c/o Nicholas E Potts & Daughter Independent Family Funeral Services, Angel House, 20 Angel Road, Norwich, NR3 3HP.