Obituary: Tributes to keen golfer and astute businessman Richard Foulger
PUBLISHED: 15:00 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:49 24 May 2019
You may be familiar with the Foulger Transport fleet. Linda, wife of Richard, tells us more about the man behind the vans
Richard Foulger ran a busy haulage company with dozens of vehicles, but he still had time to notice and help those in need. After the Bosnian war he answered an appeal for aid and sent into Bosnia up to four lorries at a time, laden with blankets, food and clothes.
"On one trip a driver drove an ambulance to Bosnia, followed by three Foulger Transport lorries in convoy. They had a few problems at Customs but were able to return unscathed after each trip," says wife Linda.
"The Foulger ambulance driver always took a teddy bear with him for good luck. On his last trip he gave the teddy bear to an orphaned child. An EDP reporter went in one of the lorries to report first-hand on the relief operation."
There were some unusual business successes, too.
Richard's father had invented a machine that sifted soil and stones from harvested sugar beet, leaving a cleaned crop. Richard demonstrated the machine to Dutch businessmen and they bought the patent for cleaning cobbled stones on the streets of The Netherlands.
Loading beet by hand
Richard Foulger was born in Eccles, near Snetterton, in June, 1936 - to parents Gwen and Wilfred. It was the year his father started a road haulage business in the village, in the yard of the family home.
Richard was educated at Eccles Primary School, Dulwich College and Eccles Hall School, finishing his education at Unthank College in Norwich.
On leaving school he worked with his father, loading sugar beet by hand in the winter and generally learning the transport trade. He had his own herd of pigs, for which he'd been responsible from an early age.
Richard was conscripted when he was 18 years old and did his two-year National Service in the RAF Regiment in Germany, driving lorries and guarding airfields.
He went back to the family business - Wilfred Foulger Ltd - and drove cattle floats into Norwich livestock market.
Defied the pickets
It wasn't many years before the transport company outgrew the site in Eccles. When his parents retired, Richard moved the company to Snetterton in 1988, renaming it Foulger Transport Limited.
The business continued to expand, with lorries regularly crossing to the continent. Foulger Transport was one of the first companies in East Anglia to carry import and export goods using agents in Felixstowe and Germany. Also, furniture vans crossed the continent to military service bases and brought families back to the UK.
"On the darker side, in 1976 Richard drove a lorry through the flying picket lines at Bury St Edmunds' sugar beet factory," says Linda.
"Richard was interviewed on Anglia TV about his stance against the pickets trying to stop his lorries from running, which resulted in death threats to himself and his family from some viewers.
"On December 19, 1982, a Foulger furniture lorry was on the European Gateway, the roll on/roll off ferry, which collapsed on a sandbank after a collision a mile out of Felixstowe. The lorry was lost but the driver and the driver's mate survived the ordeal.
"The driver was awarded a medal by the RNLI for helping to pull survivors into the lifeboats. The two men got separated and the driver's mate was on the missing list for many hours. He eventually arrived home wrapped in a blanket.
"A harrowing experience, with six deaths recorded. The survivors were taken firstly to Felixstowe and then back to Harwich, where Richard went to collect his driver in the morning."
Richard bought a hot air balloon in Foulger Transport colours for advertising, and it was a different way of entertaining customers. The balloon was flown regularly from Eccles Hall School and Eaton Park, Norwich, during early mornings or early evenings. It created a lot of amusement, says Linda.
At the time of his retirement in 1996 Foulger Transport had a fleet of 40 lorries and employed approximately 70 staff. The lorry fleet consisted of curtain-siders, flat trailers, tippers, rigids and furniture vans.
From the company's early days it was one of the leading sugar beet hauliers in the area. Richard was well known in the farming community in dealing with sugar beet contracts and livestock.
Richard was a keen golfer, being a member at Bawburgh Golf Club for 30 years. He was veterans' captain in 1997. He served as a parish councillor on Quidenham and Snetterton parish councils; was an executive member of the Road Haulage Association, and was chairman of Garnier Hall, Eccles - where he was instrumental in building a new bar area and held monthly steak nights serving up to 40 members.
Commer lorry tribute
A service of remembrance was held at Old Buckenham church. A Wilfred Foulger 1963 Commer lorry stood at the church and at Garnier Hall, where his family and friends celebrated his life.
He leaves wife Linda, daughter Julia, stepsons Huw and Tom and stepdaughter Elena, 10 grandchildren and a great-grandson.
Richard developed Parkinson's Disease in 2008 and the family asks anyone wanting to make a donation to Parkinson's UK in memory of him to contact Andy Free Funeral Directors, Fairfields, High Street, Attleborough, NR17 2BT.